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History of recent offer sheets presents varied results

by Adam Kimelman

The Philadelphia Flyers are willing to make a major commitment with the offer sheet to which they signed Nashville Predators defenseman Shea Weber on Thursday. History has shown, however, that their daring might not pay off.

The Flyers announced Thursday they signed Weber to a contract. TSN reported the deal to be 14 years and in excess of $100 million. Also, several reports have the deal being heavily front-loaded with significant signing-bonus money.

Predators general manager David Poile, in a statement released by the team, said, "We have stated previously that, should a team enter into an offer sheet with Shea, our intention would be to match and retain Shea," but added, "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."


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This is the seventh time since the current Collective Bargaining Agreement was signed in the summer of 2005 that a restricted free agent has signed a contract with another team. However, only once in the previous six times did the player's current team not match the offer sheet.

In fact, only twice in the past 15 years has a player switched teams after signing a free-agent contract that required compensation.

In 1997, the Philadelphia Flyers signed Tampa Bay Lightning center Chris Gratton to a five-year, $16.5 million contract that the Lightning refused to match, As a result, Tampa Bay was awarded the Flyers' first-round picks in 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2001. Those picks subsequently were dealt back to the Flyers in exchange for forward Mikael Renberg and defenseman Karl Dykhuis.

Gratton spent less than two seasons with the Flyers, and was traded back to the Lightning on Dec. 12, 1998 after scoring 23 goals in 108 regular-season games.

Ten years later, the Edmonton Oilers -- three weeks after being rebuffed in their attempt to sign Buffalo Sabres forward Thomas Vanek -- signed Anaheim Ducks forward Dustin Penner to a five-year, $21 million deal. The Ducks opted not to match, and took the Oilers' first-, second- and third-round picks in the 2008 Draft as compensation.

Penner spent parts of four seasons with the Oilers, averaging 23 goals per season, but the Oilers never made the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He was traded to the Los Angeles Kings at the 2011 trade deadline.

Since then, three players have signed offer sheets, only to have their former teams match -- David Backes with the Vancouver Canucks (matched by the St. Louis Blues), Steve Bernier with St. Louis (matched by Vancouver) and Niklas Hjalmarsson with the San Jose Sharks (matched by the Chicago Blackhawks).

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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