Nashville Predators defenceman Shea Weber moves the puck during a game in Nashville

Predators match Flyers’ $110-M offer for Weber

Shea Weber can thank the Philadelphia Flyers for one of the richest and longest contracts in the NHL. But the Nashville Predators will pick up the tab. The small-market Predators made the bold move Tuesday to match the staggering offer sheet made by a deep-pocketed Flyers organization to keep the two-time Norris Trophy-nominated defenceman in the franchise.

PHILADELPHIA — Shea Weber can thank the Philadelphia Flyers for one of the richest and longest contracts in the NHL.

But the Nashville Predators will pick up the tab.

The small-market Predators made the bold move Tuesday to match the staggering offer sheet made by a deep-pocketed Flyers organization to keep the two-time Norris Trophy-nominated defenceman in the franchise.

Shea it ain’t so, Philly. Weber is still a Predator.

Nashville dug deep into the pocketbook and decided to pay Weber the US$110 million over 14 years offered by the Flyers. Weber, 26, is the Predators’ captain and played on a $7.5 million arbitrator’s award last season. He had 19 goals and 49 points along the way.

Nashville already lost free-agent defenceman Ryan Suter to Minnesota this summer, and losing Weber would have been an unexpected blow to a defence-first team that had 104 points last season and has captured hearts around the region the past two years with post-season runs.

The Flyers, eliminated in the second round the past seasons after a run to the Stanley Cup finals in 2010, were looking for someone to fill the void left by defenceman Chris Pronger’s absence. Instead, Philadelphia is left scrambling.

And Weber, for a week at least, hoped he would land in Philadelphia. Now, he will likely end his career in Nashville.

“In tendering an offer sheet to Shea Weber, we were trying to add a top defenceman entering the prime of his career,” Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren said.

“With Nashville matching our offer, we wish Shea and the Predators all the best.”

On behalf of Predators chairman Tom Cigarran, GM David Poile and CEO Jeff Cogen, the team released a statement that called the Weber signing, “the most important hockey transaction in franchise history.”

Poile said from the start the Predators would match — and they did, even at the steep price.

Weber is owned $27 million over the next year and $68 million in bonus money over the first six years of the deal under the current CBA.

“It was a flagship moment for the Predator organization,” Weber agent Jarrett Bousquet said by phone.

Weber is a three-time All-Star who helped Canada win gold in the 2010 Olympics, and is also is the mainstay of the Predators’ defensive-minded approach. He is coming off a season in which he turned in a career-best plus-21 rating. Weber was sixth among NHL defencemen in scoring, as well, last year. He also had a career-high 22 points on the power play, and led all NHL defencemen with 10 power-play goals.

Weber averaged 29 minutes, 9 seconds of ice time last season, second on the team to his former partner, Suter, who signed a 13-year, $98 million deal with Minnesota on July 4.

The Predators said they wanted to send a message to their fans that they remain committed to fielding a Stanley Cup contender. Consider it done.

“It was absolutely essential that they understand and believe that we are doing everything possible to ice a Stanley Cup competing team each and every season,” the Predators said in a release.

It’s easily the biggest contract in Nashville history.

“I think what Nashville showed today is they’re willing to step up with some of the more solid ownership groups,” Bousquet said. “They said, ’You know what? We are a destination for free agents. We’re a place that guys are going to want to come and we’re solid ownership. We’re going to keep our stars.’ When that happened, Shea was pretty excited they were willing to step up like that and give him that commitment.”

The Predators said they had the money to keep Weber and Suter after signing goalie Pekka Rinne to a seven-year, $49 million deal last November. But Poile couldn’t keep Suter in town despite team officials thinking they had a good chance to keep their top draft pick in 2003. The Wild not only snagged Suter, but also agreed with forward Zach Parise, Suter’s good friend who left New Jersey for a similar deal to Suter’s, a month after leading the Devils to the Stanley Cup finals.

This could be the last deal of its kind in the NHL. The owners reportedly want to limit contracts to five years in the latest round of negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement

“We wanted to take advantage of this CBA because we’re not sure what the economic landscape will look like in the next CBA,” Bousquet said. “With this, he got some security with him and his family. He’s in a place that’s familiar to him and ownership’s proven that they’re solid and ready to step up.”

Nashville took Weber, the team’s fourth pick in the second round in that same 2003 draft, to arbitration a year ago and couldn’t take the restricted free agent there again this summer.

Just Posted

Red Deer record store celebrates its last Record Store Day

The Soundhouse, a guitar and record shop in downtown Red Deer, closes its doors next Saturday

WATCH: On 4—20 Day in Red Deer, marijuana users say legal weed a long time coming

Not wanting to wait for the federal government to legalize recreational marijuana,… Continue reading

Former Central Alberta MLA appealing fine for not protecting a list of 20,000 electors

List included names and addresses of voters in Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre

Proposed Alberta legislation would protect consumers

Alberta Utilities Commission would be given power to penalize natural gas and electricity providers

Red Deer beginning two major construction projects

Ross Street’s 1935-era water main to be replaced and 67th Street roundabout landscaped

WATCH: Central Alberta bouldering competition

Central Alberta climbers looked to prove they’re the best at a competition… Continue reading

WATCH: Red Deer RCMP and Emergency Services play for Humboldt

Red Deer police officers and firefighters laced up their skates to raise… Continue reading

WATCH: Flooding closes portion of Red Deer’s 43 Street

A portion of 43 Street in Red Deer was closed Saturday morning… Continue reading

After air accidents, survivors grapple with flying again

Hundreds of hands grappling with oxygen masks. Flight attendants warning passengers to… Continue reading

Queen Elizabeth to attend pop concert for 92nd birthday

LONDON — Queen Elizabeth is marking her 92nd birthday with a Saturday… Continue reading

‘Such a great person:’ Funeral being held for assistant coach with Broncos

STRASBOURG, Sask. — Mark Cross was a ferocious competitor when he played… Continue reading

UPDATE: Missing Innisfail woman located

A 54-year-old Innisfail woman, who had not been seen since Wednesday, has… Continue reading

Hellebuyck makes 30 saves, Jets beat Wild in Game 5 to advance to Round 2

WINNIPEG — Bryan Little’s teammates were happy they could deliver something special… Continue reading

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month