Flyers fans, please.... Forget. About. Shea. Weber. >

written by Michael DeNicola

Wednesday, May 01, 2013 --

I get it. Alright? I get it; it was a hellish 2012-13 season, filled with a lot of downs and minimal ups. We watched a team we didn't recognize, as if witnessing a close friend morph into a different person before our eyes. 

The Flyers' backend was a stable for chaos, all our own doing. Sure, we were blocking shots, but turnover totals were unacceptably high, and worse... the opposition routinely capitalized on our mistakes. Our defense was unable to produce offensive chances from our own zone. We watched a blueline suffer from injuries, as well as hemorrhage through the absence of a true Top 2 pairing. 

There were d-men who stepped up; Luke Schenn, particularly. We still dressed key leaders; Kimmo Timonen, most definitely. But it was never enough to get us over the hump and into Playoff contention. 

As a fan who has no control over the organizational decisions, we had quickly gone from 'worried'.... to unconditional acrimony. We wore it on our faces like a rainy Monday morning, and it took control of our hockey senses like a virus. As the stage grew more and more impotent, our starvation for efficient defense became one voice. Scratch that.... it became a harmonious scream. A scream that left our mouths and traveled into a black, empty void. We hear an echo of our demand, yet.... no answer back. 

From this unadulterated reflex of frustration spawns an opinion; LET'S GO GET SHEA WEBER!

I'm here, writing to you, the fan, asking to please, just this once.... forget about Nashville Predators franchise defenseman, Shea Weber.

It all began back on July 19, 2012 --

I, like the many of you, did a fist-pump so hard that I may have thrown out my shoulder. Was I excited? That's an understatement. Flyers GM Paul Holmgren had set the hockey planet on fire in the middle of the night, and sent bloggers like me blistering to the computer to find out more details.

As we soon found out, the terms of Weber's offer sheet actually called for him grossing $14-million in salary, and an additional $13-million in salary bonus monies; totaling $27-million paid out in the first year of the deal. These terms will hold annually until 2016-17 when his salary is $12-million, bonus is an additional $8-million. Then, once the 2017-18 League Year comes to a close, so would any bonus monies of Shea's. From then until the end of the 2025-26 NHL season, Weber's front-loaded salary will dim to $6-million, then $3-million, then tail off at $1-million for the final three years of his indenture.

It was a beautifully constructed contract by Paul Holmgren & Company. Ingenious, really -- 14-years, $110,000,000 ($7,857,143 average annual value, aka "cap hit"). 

The brilliant part about these terms is that it seemingly forced Nashville into an impossible position; there was no way they could match that offer. The organization exists in one of the more smaller hockey markets. Shea Weber's salary and bonus in the first year would drain the Predators' admission revenue alone. 

It was a win-win, to be honest; even if GM David Poile did or didn't match the contract, the restricted free agent was either going to remain a Predator or be welcomed in Philadelphia. Under the (former) CBA's bylaws, once an offer sheet is signed, that Player cannot be dealt elsewhere. So, it wasn't like Shea was going to become a New York Ranger, a Pittsburgh Penguin, or any other one of our Divisional foes. 

At the time, it was rumored that Poile was entertaining proposals for the 6'4" All-Star defenseman. Last thing we needed was Ray Shero getting his clammy hands around the League's best blueliner.

It was out of the question. And Holmgren reacted. 

Long story short, unfortunately for the Flyers, Poile decided to match the offer sheet and keep Shea Weber's services planted in the Athens of the South.

A side effect from this failed opportunity was losing Jaromir Jagr and Matt Carle in free agency; both skaters signed elsewhere while Holmgren and the Flyers remained focused on the Weber saga, as well as extending offers to UFA stars like Zach Parise and Ryan Suter --- who both turned out to be more organizational misses. 

The Flyers were left empty handed, and dark times only got darker. 

September 16, 2012; the collective bargaining agreement expired, and the NHL officially announced an imposed League-wide lockout. The Players' Union and Board of Governors spent the next 90+ days bickering over percentages. The soul of professional hockey was its worst victim. Though revenue still streamed its way through the League, the work-stoppage squeezed hundreds of millions of potential dollars that would have otherwise been earned if a season had gone on as scheduled. 

These dollars turn into hockey-related revenue (HRR), which is shared among all the League Owners and the Players. After both parties acceded to a new collective bargaining agreement, this HRR was to be shared 50/50 between the NHL and NHLPA (formerly a 57% share for the Players, 43% for the Owners). 

But the damage had been done. 

One of the byproducts of the lockout is that in Year 2 of the newest CBA, the salary cap ceiling is to be lowered from the current $70.2-million.... to $64.3-million; a decrease of $5.9-million in a team's sum of average annual values. 

In the grander scheme of things, 5.9-million dollars doesn't seem all that tragic. But to a Club like the Philadelphia Flyers? It's a mind-numbing catastrophe. 

If there's one thing our Flyers are known for, it's the fact that management teeters on the edge of the cap ceiling every single year. Because of inflated and asinine Player contracts, the Flyers currently exceed the ceiling by $2,549,431 (long-term injury relief included). 

Prior to the CBA being agreed on, Owners demanded that they'd be gifted a quantity of two Compliance Buyouts  --- 

"Each NHL team has been awarded two compliance buyouts that can be used at the end of this season or following the 2013-14 season. The buyouts are meant to help teams adjust to the falling salary cap; the cap decreases to $64.3 million next season from $70.2 million this year.

"Teams can use none, one or both of their buyouts after this season comes to a conclusion. The same goes for next summer. It’s up to each organization to decide whether and how buyouts are employed. 

"When a player is bought out, his salary will not count against his former team’s cap. He will, however, receive a salary worth either 1/3 or 2/3 of the original contract he signed, depending on his age. A player under the age of 26 at the time of his buyout is eligible to receive 1/3 of his salary, and a player over the age of 26 will receive 2/3 of the remaining value of his salary." [Sarah Baicker,]

There is absolutely no guarantee that the Flyers are going to use one of their compliance buyouts this offseason. And speaking of which; the time frame for a team to use one or both of their compliance buyouts falls in an ordinary course buyout period, which has been slated to begin on June 15th through June 30th of this calendar year (it may or may not be adjusted due to the Cup Final potentially bleeding into the interval). 

Should the Flyers spend one or both of their compliance buyouts, there's then the need to fill that roster position, which would make more salary costs.... which, as I've highlighted, the organization is tight on. 

Starting next League year, the Flyers currently have a roster size of 25 players, and a cap payroll of $70,768,095. This total of cap dollars exceeds Year 2's ceiling by almost $7-million. It's no secret; moves will have to be made. Some players will be traded, and some will move on to the free agency pool. Paul Holmgren and the Flyers must become cap compliant; that is, after all, priority number-1 of all NHL Clubs. 

Let's say, for a moment, that the Flyers buyout Danny Briere and Ilya Bryzgalov this summer. That's a combined $12,166,667 they'll save in AAV dollars. At first you may be saying to yourself, "There's the money right there! There's the room to fit a franchise player!"

There's a few things to consider first; For one, deduct $7-million of that to makeup for the lowered ceiling in Year 2. Next, no one knows -- nor can anyone accurately project -- what the cap ceiling is going to be in Year 3 of the CBA. We don't know what the ceiling will be in Year 4, or Year 5, and so on and so on. 

The salary cap ceiling is completely dependent on the hockey-related revenue. Fortunately for us, the League will be doing their best to stimulate the HRR in one enormous money-punch, aka MORE OUTDOOR GAMES!!! 

Meanwhile, teams like the Philadelphia Flyers will have to focus on becoming cap compliant while they also sustain a balanced, competitive roster. 

Keyword: Balanced -- I don't just mean that talent-wise. I also mean that monetarily. 

If you take a look at the Flyers near future, players like Claude Giroux, Brayden Schenn, Sean Couturier, Matt Read and Steve Mason are up for contract extensions; each of which will be expecting a considerable increase in paygrade. 

No, Claude Giroux will not be taking a hometown discount, you naive dunce. 

So, not only do the Flyers need to begin planning for the immediate financial future -- which involves becoming frugal and cutthroat this offseason -- but they're also becoming extremely dependent on the cap ceiling raising over the next two, three, four League years just so they can legally fit they're youthful stars in the salary books.

Alright, let's get back to Shea Weber.

After everything I just said, technically.... the Flyers could still afford to bring Shea Weber aboard. I'm positive I haven't convinced 100% of you yet that there's no chance he dresses in orange & black. 

Allow me to dive even deeper into detail...

Your argument may be that the Predators -- like all NHL teams this season -- lost out in millions of revenue monies. Mixed with the fact that they missed the Playoffs, they lost out in even MORE money. So, where are they getting the green-mail to pay Shea's salary and bonus? After all, Nashville just paid him $27-million, and they'd be lucky if admission tickets covered 2/3rds of that cost. 

Now that the Owners are receiving a 50% share in HRR, that means the Clubs who weigh heaviest on the NHL's Revenue Sharing Program are receiving more financial aid than ever before. Clubs like Nashville have a stream of dollars to help them pay players like Shea Weber, and keep their organizational heads above the pile of shit hockey market they're in. 

Besides, David Poile is not about to come off of a year he just spent matching an absurd offer sheet, paying $27-million to one player, and then trade that player the following year. Especially when that player is their franchise captain, and arguably the best defenseman in the League today!

Could I be wrong? Certainly. I've been wrong about hundreds of thousands of things in my lifetime. But in this case, at this time, I just cannot see the Predators dealing All-Star blueliner, Shea Weber. And I don't see our organization being interested in acquiring a contract that owes ONE player close to 8-million cap dollars per season until the year 2024.

The Philadelphia Flyers have many needs from a roster standpoint. Would Shea Weber help this team out? Yes, of course, Weber would be a phenomenal service to our blueline. But it's that contract and the Flyers' dire cap hassle that lead me to believe that even the best defenseman in the NHL cannot correct Broad Street's dejection. It's going to take more than one man with one bloated contract to right this ship. 

There's too much unknown, and too much to consider to even entertain the thought of Shea Weber becoming a Philadelphia Flyer any time soon. 

So, Flyers fans.... please..... Forget. About. Shea. Weber.

......screw it, you all stopped reading awhile ago

Check out The Pack on Facebook!

You can follow Michael DeNicola on Twitter: @MikeyD_OandBP

Contact The Pack here...

Shea Weber 05012013.jpg 

Follow Us
Copyright 2012 by WhiteGate Media LLC   |  Privacy Statement  |  Terms Of Use