By Tom Dougherty | @todougherty

In the wee hours of Thursday morning, the Philadelphia Flyers dropped a bombshell on the NHL and one that the Nashville Predators may not have the financial means to respond.

The Flyers signed restricted free agent Shea Weber to a 14 year, $110 million offer sheet that will pay the 26-year-old defenseman $56 million in the first four years and $27 million in one calendar year.

Because Weber is restricted, the Predators have seven days from the day in which the offer sheet was signed to match. If Nashville chooses not to match, Weber would become a Flyer.

Predators’ general manager David Poile has previously said that he would match any offer sheet submitted to Weber, however, in a statement released Thursday, Poile’s language kept the both doors open.

“We have stated previously that, should a team enter into an offer sheet with Shea,” Poile said. “Our intention would be to match and retain Shea. Our ownership has provided us with the necessary resources to building a Stanley-Cup-winning team.”

One has to think that from a hockey perspective, the Predators absolutely have to match the offer sheet after seeing Ryan Suter flock to Minnesota for 13 years, $98 million.

If Poile doesn’t match the offer, the Predators would receive four future first round picks from Philadelphia. It would be extremely difficult to explain to their fan base how they lost Weber and Suter for only four draft picks, especially since Nashville is a small market team.

But the question remains, can the Predators afford to match the Weber contract? It’s not a salary cap question. Nashville is currently $13.3 million under the salary cap floor, meaning before the start of the season, the Preds have to add $13.3 million in cap hits.

It’s simply about how much money the Predators have and does it make sense to match the offer sheet for both the short-term and the long-term.

For Nashville, matching the contract would be a bad business decision.

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