Whoa: RFA Shea Weber Agrees to MASSIVE Offer Sheet From Flyers

Whoa: RFA Shea Weber Agrees to MASSIVE Offer Sheet From Flyers

So that was a boring free agency period in the NHL, no? At least it was from the Philly perspective. Matt Carle and Jaromir Jagr split town, and all the Flyers got in return were Michael Leighton, Bruno Gervais, and Ruslan Fedotenko. Guess we'll just be moving along here...

Not so fast says GM Paul Holmgren, who had an absolute bombshell of a move up his sleeve after all. Out of nowhere, TSN's Darren Dreger breaks the news around 1 a.m. on Thursday morning that Nashville Predators defenseman and restricted free agent Shea Weber has agreed to an offer sheet with the Flyers, and you may want to sit down before you read these numbers: 14 years, upwards of $100 million.

However, don't start dreaming of Weber in Orange and Black quite yet. The Preds have seven days to match the offer, and early indications are that they would try do exactly that.

Weber, who turns 27 in August, is regarded as one of the top all-around defensemen in the NHL today, and putting him on their blue line would instantly stabilize the back end for the Flyers. At 6-4, 234 lbs., the three-time All Star is load of a man who can shut down one side of the ice, who also happens to be excellent in the offensive zone as well as evidenced by the 18.5 goals and 48.3 points he's averaging over the past four seasons. He plays big minutes, he plays on the power play, and he's a leader. He's everywhere.

At $100 million (the exact figure is not yet known), the contract would carry an average cap hit of $7.1 million per year, and the total years and money are not significantly more than ex-teammate and fellow blue liner Ryan Suter recently received from the Minnesota Wild on the open market (13 years, $98M). However, if Nashville doesn't match, the Flyers will be paying a price, one that is far greater than cold hard cash -- the compensation could be as steep as four first-round draft picks.

There may be some debate as to whether any player is worth handing over that much of the future to obtain, but the Flyers do have something going for them in that regard. There is a ton of young talent on the team already, so most of the needs they are anticipating over the next several years would be filling holes left behind from guys they can no longer afford to keep. Of course, that's another issue altogether, how the front office can reconcile another huge, long-term commitment under the always tight cap.

As for Nashville's part, the initial consensus is not only will they match, they must. Puck Daddy points out GM David Poile previously claimed the team would match any offer. However, up until now the team had been exploring trades for Weber, but the Flyers obviously threw a wrench into that plan. Even still, there is also a line of thinking that even if the Preds want to match, it could become a sore spot between player and franchise if Weber wants out either way, or they may not be able to pony up a huge up-front bonus. PD covers some of the intricacies nicely, so it's worth a read if you're looking to go more in-depth.

At this point, who knows what will happen next. Nobody was expecting this at all, especially given how rare it is for teams to go after restricted free agents in the NHL. We're still struggling to wrap our heads around the development at this late hour. Obviously the initial reaction is this would be amazing if it went through though. The Flyers had one of the league's most prolific offenses last season, but there are plenty of questions remaining on the back end. Shea Weber would solve a lot of them. It's a huge contract, it's a huge cost, but it sure sounds totally worth it.

Ben Simmons spending his summer getting bigger and better

Ben Simmons spending his summer getting bigger and better

Ben Simmons repeatedly emphasized at summer league he wanted to work on “everything” leading up to training camp.

As a point-forward who plays multiple positions, he has more than just one role to address this offseason. But what does “everything” entail? With a wide range of responsibilities on the court, Simmons is honing in on specific areas.

“I think just getting in the gym and making sure I’m getting reps up, shooting-wise, dribbling,” Simmons said earlier this week after an appearance at Sixers Camp in Wayne, Pennsylvania. “The weight room as well, making sure I get my strength back and my weight up.”

Shooting
Simmons has been criticized for his reluctance to shoot. During his one season of college ball at LSU, he averaged 19.2 points off 11.7 field goal attempts per game (56 percent made). Over six summer league games (including both Utah and Las Vegas), Simmons took 22 field-goal attempts and shot 32.2 percent. He had less than 10 attempts in four of the games, and attempted 15 in the Sixers’ finale. Simmons attempted one three in summer league action.

While in Utah and Las Vegas, the Sixers encouraged Simmons to be more aggressive. At 6-foot-10, Simmons is able to get to the rim. Once there, many times he passes it off rather than finishing himself. The Sixers don’t expect Simmons to become a 30-point-per-game scorer, but he will be a key part of their offense.

“You always want him to be as good of a shooter as he can be,” Las Vegas summer league head coach Lloyd Pierce said this earlier month. “It’s not going to be his strength. His strength is going to be passing, facilitating, playmaking. That’s going to be an added bonus, whatever the percentage or the number is.”

Dribbling
Simmons averaged 5.5 assists per game during summer league (second on the team by 0.3 dimes to T.J McConnell). Conversely, he committed 3.83 turnovers.

The Sixers signed two point guards this summer, Jerryd Bayless and Sergio Rodriguez, and McConnell is returning from last season. Head coach Brett Brown said after the draft he does not plan to utilize Simmons as the primary one-guard right away as the 20-year-old learns the league. But early on, Simmons will have the rock in his hands plenty of times given his natural ball-handling abilities, especially when grabbing the rebound and running the fast break.

"I think it's the hardest position to play in the NBA,” Brown previously said. “I think to just give him the ball in that capacity is borderline cruel. He needs to feel NBA basketball. And maybe he evolves there." (See story)

Weight room
After college, Simmons put on 20 pounds from his training and entered the draft at 242 pounds. He stood out among the competition in summer league play with his NBA-ready stature. Simmons said he would like to get up to 246 or 247 pounds this offseason.

“Not too heavy,” he said.

With the size of a forward and the skills of a guard, the Sixers will be able to utilize Simmons to create mismatches both in the backcourt and at the hoop.

Tonight's Lineup: Struggling Rupp back behind the plate for Phillies

Tonight's Lineup: Struggling Rupp back behind the plate for Phillies

After scoring five first-inning runs on their way to a 7-5 win against the Braves on Thursday, Pete Mackanin decided not to tinker with the Phillies' lineup too much.

In fact, the only change will be at catcher. The struggling Cameron Rupp will get the start on Friday and bat sixth after Carlos Ruiz was behind the plate on Thursday. Rupp, who was one of the few bright spots for the offense in the first half, is just 5 for 31 since the All-Star break. On the season, Rupp is still batting .271 with 10 homers and 29 RBIs.

Aaron Altherr came off the DL with a bang, tallying three hits, including a two-run homer on Thursday. Mackanin has said Altherr will get a long look in right field and Thursday night was a glimpse of why. 

With Altherr's regular presence in the lineup, Cody Asche has been put on notice. After going on a tear from early June to early July, Asche is batting .094 (5 for 53) in his last 17 games. With Altherr and Odubel Herrera entrenched in right and center, Asche will have to get hot to stave off prospect Nick Williams, who seems to be finding his groove at Lehigh Valley.

Here is tonight's lineup:
1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Odubel Herrera, CF
3. Maikel Franco, 3B
4. Tommy Joseph, 1B
5. Aaron Altherr, RF
6. Cameron Rupp, C
7. Cody Asche, LF
8. Freddy Galvis, SS
9. Vince Velasquez, P

Temple football announces future series with Boston College and Duke

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Associated Press

Temple football announces future series with Boston College and Duke

Temple football starts its training camp next week, but the Owls have made another splash in the future scheduling department. This time, the opponents come from the ACC.

The program announced Friday it has agreed to future series with Boston College (2018 at BC and 2021 in Philadelphia) and Duke (2022 in Cameron, North Carolina and 2023 in Philadelphia). Temple also announced a game with Bucknell in Philadelphia in 2019 announced dates for previously confirmed future matchups with Maryland and Rutgers and 2017's season opener at Notre Dame.

The Boston College series is intriguing because it will be the renewal of an annual series from when the programs used to meet every year in Big East conference play. The Eagles hold a 28-7-2 all-time advantage over the Owls. Temple's last win against Boston College came in 1999 when the Owls earned a 24-14 victory. Of course, the matchup will be even juicier if former Temple head coach Steve Addazio is still leading Boston College in two years. But with the way the program floundered to a 3-9 record, earned just one win against an FCS program and went winless in ACC play last season and doesn't have a bright outlook this season, don't hold your breath that Addazio will be there.

The Owls have never met the Dukies on the gridiron.

Temple's non-conference slate this season includes home dates against Army (Sept. 2), Stony Brook (Sept. 10) and Charlotte (Sept. 24) and a visit to in-state rival Penn State (Sept. 17).

Friday's announcements come on the heels of an announcement earlier this month that confirmed Temple will play a three-game set with national powerhouse Oklahoma. That series is set to start in 2024.

Below is a list of dates for Temple's future games against non-conference opponents:
2017 – at Notre Dame - Sept. 2, vs. Villanova - Sept. 9, vs. UMass  - Sept. 16, at Army - Oct. 21
2018 – vs. Villanova -  Sept. 1, vs. Buffalo - Sept. 8, at Maryland - Sept. 15, at Boston College - Sept. 29
2019 – vs. Bucknell - Aug. 31, vs. Maryland - Sept. 14, at Buffalo - Sept. 21), vs. Army - Oct. 26
2020 – vs. Idaho - Sept. 12, vs. Rutgers - Sept. 19
2021 – at Rutgers - Sept. 4, vs. Boston College - Sept. 18
2022 – at Duke - Sept. 3, vs. Rutgers - Sept. 17
2023 – at Rutgers - Sept. 9, vs. Duke - Sept. 16
2024 - at Oklahoma - Aug. 31
2025 - vs. Oklahoma - Sept. 13
2028 - at Oklahoma - Sept. 2