Flyers' Front-Loaded Weber Deal Is for 110 Million, Preds on the Clock

Flyers' Front-Loaded Weber Deal Is for 110 Million, Preds on the Clock

When news broke overnight that the Flyers and defenseman Shea Weber had agreed to an offer sheet, Darren Dreger's report did not specify the exact dollar amount of the offer that enticed the highly coveted restricted free agent to sign, saying only "upwards of $100 million."
This morning, Nick Kypreos of SportsNet breaks down the offer as follows:

It's simultaneously a ton of money overall and somehow also a reasonable deal for the Flyers, but the upfront and early year bonuses will be the key in whether Nashville GM David Poile can afford to make good on his pledge to match any offer sheet. His previously stated position was understandable in that it may have kept an offer or two from being made to Weber's camp alone, rather than trading with the team (along with the overall rarity of NHL GM's trying to snipe RFAs at all). But can Nashville match that coin, even amidst a presumed need to spend up to the current NHL salary floor (which is subject to change as part of the labor negotiations and next CBA)? 
The coming week will determine whether that was a bluff or a promise.
Many folks seem to believe Poile will stay true to his pledge and match the offer, but it's clearly not as simple as just crossing out "Philadelphia Flyers" on the current offer sheet and scrawling in "Nashville Predators." And, there's a growing sentiment that they simply might not be able to afford matching, even if they wanted to.
While we'd like to think the Preds would want the situation resolved expeditiously (which benefits our own lack of patience), this could be a long week while the Flyers and the rest of the league wait to see what Nashville will do. Presumably, they've been crunching numbers on what they can afford all along, but a fair amount of short- and long-term budgeting and number crunching is obviously warranted in a franchise-altering deal like this. If the Predators can't or won't match, there could be other reasons why they wouldn't come out and say so before they have to, not the least of which is the pride of not wanting to promptly admit being unable to afford to keep their transient Cup-contending team together. Having already lost Ryan Suter to the Minnesota Wild this month, the Preds and their fans would be that much more devastated to lose Weber too. 
Paul Holmgren has made his move, guaranteeing that if Weber is leaving Tennessee, he's coming to Philly and nowhere else. If he's not destined to be a Flyer, we don't have to worry about seeing him patrolling the blue line for an Atlantic foe over the next decade-plus. Dreger listed the Rangers among a small group of teams who were in the hunt for Weber. In so doing, Homer has also painted Poile into the kind of financial corner that has presumably made RFA offer sheet deals largely taboo among GMs. Of course, these two guys know each other well and have a history of trading together. Poile's dad was also the first GM of the Flyers.
However, reports (notably the initial tweets from Dreger) indicate that the Flyers grew tired of waiting as Nashville sat on Weber trade offers. Friendship, collegiality, and family ties all have their limits, and there was always the possibility that any of the interested teams could do exactly what the Flyers just did. This is not a front office that enjoys waiting around while others dictate the market landscape. And of course, there may be more to the negotiations than we currently know; Flyers beat man Dave Isaac points out that while the money is going to be tough to match, Homer's agreement with Weber also effectively paves the way for Weber to stay in Nashville for the next 14 years if the Predators so choose, something a lot less likely to happen if he went to unrestricted free agency next year. And, he doesn't end up hanging his jersey in Nik Lidstrom's locker stall. 
But the Flyers' agreement with Weber isn't designed merely to make him a rich Predator/non-Penguin-Ranger-Red Wing; in addition to needing to make it sweet enough to entice Weber to leave Nashville, the architecture might also be designed to include a financial wall the Preds might not be able to scale. While it appears to pass The Kovalchuk Test both in terms of league legality and the presumption that Weber should actually be able to play fairly well until its term expires, the bonuses on the front end are massive, including a total haul of $27 million in the first year. As Travis at BSH mentioned in a post on the difficulties Nashville faces in matching, Forbes recently valued the entire Predators franchise at $163 million. By comparison, the Flyers come in at $290 million.
Weber has obviously made his move too, solidifying his financial future as best he can with a looming NHL labor climate hellbent on limiting what players of his caliber can earn and where they can earn it. We won't know what's left standing until a new CBA is reached, but perhaps after seeing the early reports on the owners' demands, Weber's side wanted to move before any changes were in place. They found a willing partner with deep pockets in need of a franchise defenseman, a team that hasn't shied away from the kinds of long-term deals that the next CBA may abolish... 
Stay tuned, it should be an interesting week. 
Matt P. contributed to this posting.

Pete Mackanin on Odubel Herrera's slump: 'He needs to battle his way out'

Pete Mackanin on Odubel Herrera's slump: 'He needs to battle his way out'

After an 0-for-5 day at the plate, Odubel Herrera isn't heading to the bench a day later.

He's leading off. 

Pete Mackanin chose to move the slumping centerfielder atop the lineup card for Friday's series opener against the Reds despite Herrera's striking out in all five plate appearances Thursday.

"I think he's a .290-plus hitter as a leadoff man and I'm not going to sit him," Mackanin said pregame. "He needs to battle his way out. You figure you're the leadoff hitter once a game. After that, it's wide open."

While he hasn't batted leadoff this season, Herrera spent the majority of his time in that spot last season. In 76 games there, he batted .285 with a .359 OBP and .417 slugging percentage. 

The leadoff hitter this season has been Cesar Hernandez, who has a day off with a groin pull he's dealt with the last 10 days. Herrera primarily has been the No. 3 hitter this season and his average is down to .226 with 49 strikeouts to just 11 walks. 

Mackanin hopes the leadoff role can help change Herrera's approach at the plate.

"He was drawing a lot of walks at leadoff, so whether he has that mindset or not, I'm not sure," the manager said. "I just want to get him as many at-bats as possible. We need to get him going. We need him and [Maikel] Franco to get going."

May specifically has been tough on Herrera. He has four hits in his last 36 at-bats and has seven strikeouts in his last two games. He has just seven hits in 22 games this month. 

"I think he's at the point where he's grinding and sometimes when you grind, sometimes there's that feeling where you get lost," Mackanin said. "I've been in situations as a hitter where I've gone up to the plate saying, 'I don't care where it is. I'm going up there and just hacking.' Because you start thinking and that's not working.

"And you look for a pitch and then all of a sudden you say I'm going to take a pitch to get a look at and it's strike one. Then he throws you a nasty slider and that's strike two and your plan is out the window. So I've gone up to the plate myself saying, 'I'm just looking down the middle and swinging. I'm not thinking.'"

When asked, Mackanin said the team had not discussed demoting Herrera or Franco to the minors to take pressure off the duo.

While Herrera tries to hit his way back into a groove, Howie Kendrick is in the midst of working his way back to the majors. He was hit by pitch twice in a rehab appearance Thursday but is back in the lineup Friday in left field. 

Mackanin said Kendrick needed four days minimum in his rehab assignment and will therefore play Friday and Saturday before the team sees how he feels.

The manager also said the team would give more playing time to backup catcher Andrew Knapp. He started consecutive games for the first time on Tuesday and Wednesday. 

"I'm going to try and see him as much as possible and keep him as sharp as possible instead of once a week," Mackanin said. "That's tough to hit, once a week. It's tough to hit twice a week if you don't hit back-to-back. There's no ulterior motive."

Report: Brett Brown accuses longtime friend of defrauding him of $750,000

brett-brown.jpg

Report: Brett Brown accuses longtime friend of defrauding him of $750,000

Sixers head coach Brett Brown is in Australia this week, where he has accused longtime friend and former Australian men's national team assistant coach Shane Heal of defrauding him of $750,000, according to the Australian Associated Press.

Brown invested $250,000 into each of three companies for which Heal was the sole director. Brown wasn't given a legal title regarding the companies and didn't know the specifics of how the money would be used.

"I assumed that the money was going to be used for what Shane told me it was going to be used for," Brown said. "Because it was a friend that I had for 25 years."

Heal was charged last year by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission following an investigation relating to alleged misconduct in 2008, 2009 and 2010, according to the AAP.

The sides return to court in Brisbane on July 20.

Heal played in the NBA for the Minnesota Timberwolves in 1996-97 and was with the San Antonio Spurs in 2003.