The Nashville Predators called it the most important decision they've ever made, and that's not far off: The still-fledgling NHL franchise on Tuesday matched the 14-year, $110 million offer sheet tendered to star defenseman and captain Shea Weber by the Philadelphia Flyers last week.
The move assures that Weber will stay in Nashville at least through the 2012-13 season, as CBA rules state the team cannot deal him for one full calendar year, but as the Predators have stated, it likely means that Weber will be a Predator for life.
Matching the hefty offer sheet likely wasn't easy for one of the league's smaller-market franchises thanks to the structure of the deal: $13 million due at signing, $1 million over the course of the 12-13 season and $13 million again on July 1, 2013. It was necessary for Nashville to match a) to stay competitive and b) to save face with fans and sponsors.
The Flyers released a statement wishing Weber the best of luck in Nashville. Philly will now look to explore other options in improving its defense, now left without captain Chris Pronger due to severe, perhaps career-threatening injury and top-pairing cog Matt Carle, who left for the Tampa Bay Lightning via free agency.