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.

In 1st game post-Ersan Ilyasova, Dario Saric shines as Sixers' starting PF

In 1st game post-Ersan Ilyasova, Dario Saric shines as Sixers' starting PF

When Ersan Ilyasova was traded to the Hawks on Wednesday, it became Dario Saric's time to shine.

And shine he did in the Sixers' 120-112 win over the Wizards Friday night at the Wells Fargo Center. In the first game coming off the All-Star break, Saric got the starting nod at power forward. He certainly looked the part, posting 20 points (10 of 19 from the field), 11 rebounds and four assists.

Saric, now the only true four on the roster, was proud of his team's performance against one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference.

"We have a lot of veterans who can share the ball and that's how you're supposed to play," Saric said. "For me I'm not surprised if we [beat the third-best team] in the East, but I believe these guys can play very good basketball."

Saric was excellent in the starting role, but his exceptional play dates back before the All-Star break. Including Friday, he's averaged 20.5 points, eight rebounds and 2.5 assists over his last six games. The Sixers are 4-2 in that span.

Head coach Brett Brown is seeing what he expected to see from the Croatian rookie.

"He's a professional basketball player," Brown said. "He has been that for a while. His love of the game, his passion for the game is contagious. It's a thing that we loved maybe more than anything about him when we did the deal with Orlando, knowing however many years ago with the trade with Elfrid Payton and Saric. That was a calculated move."

Saric played almost 33 minutes Friday night. So what did Brown do to give Saric a breather? He sent out Robert Covington.

Covington has played the position most of his life but has spent his entire Sixers career on the wing. In a time of need, he stepped up for a team still adjusting to roster changes.

The 6-foot-8 Covington held his own against the likes of Philly native Markieff Morris. It didn't seem to faze his offensive game, either. Covington scored 25 points on 9 of 14 from the field (5 of 9 from three). He also added 11 rebounds and three assists.

Covington has also been a catalyst for the Sixers during their recent success. He's averaging 17.5 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.2 steals in his last six. He's also shot a ridiculous 46 percent from three (19 of 41) in that span.

"We can only control what we're able to control on the court," Covington said. "Everything outside of what they do in management doesn't include us. We can only focus on what we can control on the court, and that's what our main focus was on these last few days."

Saric continues to show that he was worth wait while Covington continues to prove that he's a keeper.

They've certainly had different paths. Saric was a lottery pick and regarded as one the top young players in Europe. Covington went undrafted out of Tennessee State and spent the 2013-14 primarily with the Rockets' D-League affiliate.

Bryan Colangelo has identified Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons as the team's "transformational players." That's likely true, but every NBA team needs guys like Saric and Covington to complement their stars.

Covington is impressed with the progress of Saric in his rookie season.

"Dario's a very special player," Covington said. "He's able to do so much on the court. Tonight, you saw every aspect of his game. He'll guard, defending, rebounding and making plays on the offensive game. That's what Dario does. Now that he's going to play more in the starting lineup, it's really going to help him."

Saric may be the frontrunner to take home the Rookie of the Month for February. He's second only to Joel Embiid in double-doubles (seven) and 20-point games (six) among rookies. Whether it's Saric or Embiid, it appears the Rookie of the Year will be a Sixer.

His promotion to the starting lineup and wins against teams like the Wizards should only help Saric's cause.

"Maybe you see [me start consistently], maybe not," Saric said. "The game first time here I try to find myself. I got a couple rebounds, but still I try to find myself with the new role. I've tried to move around, catch the rhythm of the game, that's the most important thing in basketball."

He appeared to find himself just fine Friday night.

For Shayne Gostisbehere, Dave Hakstol, Stadium Series brings back cherished memories

For Shayne Gostisbehere, Dave Hakstol, Stadium Series brings back cherished memories

PITTSBURGH -- For Flyers coach Dave Hakstol and defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere, tonight’s Stadium Series game between the Flyers and Penguins brings back memories.
 
Hakstol coached North Dakota in an outdoor hockey in college, while Gostisbehere participated in one as a freshman at Union College.
 
For Hakstol, however, this whole idea of outdoor hockey began when he was growing up in central Alberta in the small town of Drayton Valley.
 
“I think everybody’s got great memories of growing up outdoors,” Hakstol said. “We had a back creek that we could shovel off. I’m sure everybody could sit back and tell you stories of playing on the outdoor rinks.
 
“For me, most recently, I’ve got two kids growing up playing on outdoor rinks, backyard rinks. It’s pretty cool. It takes you right back to the heart of the game.”
 
Hakstol’s outdoor coaching experience came during a game between Nebraska-Omaha and his North Dakota squad in 2013 at the “Mutual of Omaha Battles on Ice.”
 
“I don’t know how to describe it,” Hakstol said of the event. “It’s just a different feel. It’s an ideal scenario.”
 
He said while tonight's game is special, it’s still about the points, first and foremost.
 
“You are cognizant of everything that surrounds the event and the game,” Hakstol said. “Yet for us, it’s two points. We’re fighting for every point here. That is going to paramount.”

Gostisbehere played at Fenway Park in 2012 for Union in a game against Harvard. That night, Union won, 2-0, to become the first ECAC club to ever win outdoors.
 
“I played at Fenway Park against Harvard and it was fun,” Gostisbehere said. “That was my freshman year and the only one I ever played in.
 
“Good crowd. It wasn’t packed obviously, but it was a night game. The ice was really good. It was really cold, too. It was pretty cool.”
 
As warm as it was Friday here -- a historic 78 degrees -- temperatures will begin in the 40s tonight at Heinz Field and then drop. It rained this morning but has since ceased.
 
“The biggest thing for me was to take a second, look around,” Gostisbehere said, admitting he failed to do that in college and won’t make that mistake again.
 
“Just cherish it a little bit. You are so focused on the game, it’s tough. That was biggest thing for me. It was such a blur. Just being in college and having the opportunity to play at Fenway Park was pretty awesome.”

This will the Flyers first-ever outdoor affair in Pittsburgh.
 
“It’s pretty exciting and I’m glad to be part of it,” Gostisbehere said.