The Philadelphia Flyers shook up the NHL by signing Nashville’s Shea Weber to a 14-year, $110 million offer sheet.
At 26, Weber’s already a two-time Norris Trophy finalist and in the prime of his career, a big reason why the Flyers broke the bank to acquire his services.
While the financials and term of Weber’s deal may seem outlandish, it’s hardly the first time Philadelphia’s been wildly aggressive in its pursuit of a restricted free agent.
Here’s a recap of the Chris Gratton scenario of 1997, from USA Today:
This one got messy. The Philadelphia Flyers offered Tampa Bay Lightning center Chris Gratton a five-year, $16.5 million deal with a $9 million signing bonus. The Blackhawks said they had made a deal to acquire Gratton by trade and the Lightning, who were up for sale, argued that the Flyers’ faxed offer sheet was invalid because it was smudged. The case went to arbitration and the Flyers prevailed. But the teams essentially worked out a trade.
The Lightning didn’t match the offer and the Flyers sent Mikael Renberg and Karl Dykhuis to reacquire the four first-round picks they gave up. Gratton didn’t work out in Philadelphia and was traded back to Tampa Bay for Renberg in December 1998.
That was the first offer sheet of Bobby Clarke’s tenure as Flyers GM, but it wouldn’t be the last.
In 2006, Philadephia faced uncertainty at center with Keith Primeau sidelined by concussion and contemplating retirement. For insurance, Clarke targeted Vancouver’s Ryan Kesler and signed him to a one-year, $1.9 million deal.
This was the first offer sheet of the post-lockout CBA and though the deal was relatively inexpensive, it made waves because A) Kesler was only 22, B) he was making $722,000 at the time and C) matching would put the Canucks dangerously close to the $44 million salary cap ceiling.
Clarke came under fire for the move, but shot back at his critics.
“We all have the same cap,” he told CBC. “We all operate in the same world. They had all summer to sign this guy. It was three days before training camp, he’s not signed, we’re going to lose Primeau [to retirement], so we took a shot at getting another centre.”
Clarke followed that statement with a theory on offer sheets that would ring very true.
“This is the first one,” he said, “but it’s not going to be the last.”