Who are the top restricted free agents?
Offer sheets for restricted free agents are a rare occurrence during the history of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement. This is just the seventh signed Offer since 2005. But could Weber's deal spark interest in other restricted free agents? There are several quality players out there on the RFA market, if "a market" were to develop.
Here's a quick look at the best RFAs available, with their cap hit from the 2011-12 season in parentheses. Expect all of these players to receive a hefty raise. Recent history says it will most likely be from their current employer, but as the Philadelphia Flyers and Weber have shown, there could be other options.
Evander Kane, F, Winnipeg ($3.1 million)
Kane turns 21 years old next month, and scored 30 goals for the Jets last season. He could be one of the League's premier power forwards for the next decade. Gary Lawless of the Winnipeg Free Press reported earlier this week that Kane's representatives and the Jets are working on a long-term contract.
Ryan O'Reilly, F, Colorado ($900,000)
O'Reilly had a breakout campaign in 2011-12, finishing with 18 goals and a team-leading 55 points. He turns 22 years old in February, and is already one of the top two-way centers in the League. The Avalanche also have centers Paul Stastny and Matt Duchene, but O'Reilly could be the most valuable of the three.
P.K. Subban, D, Montreal ($875,000)
Subban played more than 24 minutes a night in his sophomore NHL season, and the 23-year-old is one of the most dynamic young defensemen in the League. He had 14 goals and 38 points in his rookie season, and seven goals and 36 points in 2011-12.
Tyler Ennis, F, Buffalo ($875,000)
Ennis had just five points in his first 18 games last season and missed about six weeks with an injury twice, but finished with a flurry as the center of Buffalo's most productive line in the final month. He ended the season with 15 goals and 34 points in 48 games. Eight of his 15 goals came after March 8. Ennis had 20 goals and 49 points as a rookie, and turns 23 years old in October.
John Carlson, D, Washington ($845,833)
Carlson has teamed with Karl Alzner to form the top defensive pairing for the Capitals in each of the past two seasons. He had some growing pains in his second full NHL season, but Carlson finished with nine goals and 32 points while logging nearly 22 minutes of ice time per contest during the regular season before playing more than 24 minutes a night in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He will be 23 in January.
Jamie Benn, F, Dallas ($821,667)
Benn squared off against Carlson and Alzner in the marquee matchup of the 2010 Calder Cup Final, and the 23-year-old has become one of the Stars' most important players. He had 26 goals and 63 points last season while earning a spot in the 2012 All-Star Game, and could be Dallas' No. 1 center for years to come.
-- Corey Masisak
TSN's Darren Dreger, who first reported the story, says the deal is for 14 years and more than $100 million. Those terms were not confirmed in the club's press release. According to several reports, the deal is front-loaded with bonus-money payouts in the first several years.
Nashville has a week to decide whether to match the offer. If the Predators opt not to do so, it is believed they will receive a package of four first-round draft picks from the Flyers, although compensation depends on the annual average value of the contract. The Flyers' first-round pick has been no higher than No. 20 in each of the past four drafts.
Nashville general manager David Poile has repeatedly said his club would match any offer sheet. Thursday, the Predators released a statement on the offer from the Flyers.
"We are in receipt of the offer sheet signed between the Philadelphia Flyers and Shea Weber," Poile said in the statement. "Under the rules pertaining to an offer sheet, the Predators have one week to decide whether to match or accept the compensation. We have stated previously that, should a team enter into an offer sheet with Shea, our intention would be to match and retain Shea. Our ownership has provided us with the necessary resources to build a Stanley Cup-winning team.
"Due to the complexity of the offer sheet, we will take the appropriate time to review and evaluate it and all of its ramifications in order to make the best decision for the Predators in both the short- and long-term."
Dreger reported Nashville was working on a trade and it's believed several deadlines passed before the Flyers grew tired of waiting and Weber -- a restricted free agent -- signed the offer sheet.
Weber's agent, Jarrett Bousquet of Titan Sports, was reached for comment by The Tennessean.
"When Philadelphia came to us with a more than fair market contract, it was too good for us to pass up," he said. "If you look at Philadelphia and the great history and tradition they have it just seemed like too good of an opportunity to let pass.
"We had to take a long look at it. It was a hard decision, but Shea wants to give himself the best opportunity to win, as well as work under the conditions of the current collective bargaining agreement."
According to a source in The Tennessean story, Weber had visited the Flyers, New York Rangers, Detroit Red Wings and San Jose Sharks since becoming a restricted free agent July 1.
Bousquet told TSN Radio he did not foresee a problem if the Predators match the offer sheet, but that Weber is prepared to play for the Flyers.
"I don't think you sign an offer sheet unless you're pointing in that one direction ...," Bousquet said. "It's really up to [Nashville]. He'd like to play with the Philadelphia Flyers because I think we all feel that he's just another piece in the puzzle to take them to the next level and he doesn't want to go through a rebuilding process again."
Weber, the runner-up for the Norris Trophy as the NHL's top defenseman, had one year remaining before he would have been an unrestricted free agent. He turns 27 on Aug. 14 and is coming off a season in which he scored 19 goals and added 30 assists for 49 points. He was a First-Team All-Star for the second straight season and barely lost the Norris to Ottawa's Erik Karlsson.
Weber has played his entire NHL career with Nashville, which picked him in the second round (No. 49) of the 2003 NHL Draft.
The signing comes just two weeks after the Predators lost their other All-Star defenseman, Ryan Suter. He signed a 13-year, $98 million contract with the Minnesota Wild on July 4.
This is the seventh time an offer sheet has been signed since the most recent CBA was signed in 2005. In six of the seven cases, the offer sheet has been matched.
In 2007, the Anaheim Ducks did not match Edmonton's offer to Dustin Penner and the forward went to the Oilers for a compensation package.