To each according to his means, probably.
The Flyers were one of several teams reportedly pursuing a trade for Weber when they decided it would be better to make an offer sheet now, ask questions later. That move kept any of their Atlantic rivals (Rangers?) from getting Weber, and it solidified the compensation as either four first round picks or whatever alternative compensation the Flyers and Predators might work out.
Everyone knows the stakes for the Flyers -- Mark did a nice job in this FanPost outlining what four first round picks from a recurring playoff team might look like. Your question today is: Given where they are and where you hope they're heading, would it have been wise for the Islanders to have made the same move?
Weber was a frequent topic among Islanders fans in the last year -- a dream topic to be sure, but that's what you do once your eyes cast toward the next season. Of course the drawback to any theoretical offer from the Isles is they are in a completely different situation than the Flyers: The Flyers have made the playoffs 5 years running, the Isles have missed each year since their last appearance in 2007 (which coincided with the last time the Flyers missed out).
So naturally the Islanders' first-round picks can be expected to be more valuable. Complicating the topic further, the Isles are a low-revenue, low-spending team and appear to be so through at least 2015 (CBA and location-destiny notwithstanding). So even throwing the mammoth $110 million contract and its gobs of up-front signing bonus money aside, the Isles need to rely on the high-skill, cost-controlled talent at least a couple of those picks are likely to produce. They don't exactly have the option of throwing $100-million contracts around to replace lost talent and lost opportunity.
So, even if we were dealing with a theoretically reasonable term such as five or seven years on a fantasy offer sheet to Weber … would you have made a deal that cost the Islanders' next four first-round picks? More precisely, would Weber -- under any contract -- be worth four firsts to the Islanders?
For that matter, would any RFA from the last few years?
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Note: Yes, this is all purely for discussion's sake, mulling the hypotheticals. As we did with Alex Semin (still unsigned) and Marek Zidlicky (later traded to the Devils) earlier this year, and like Lubomir Visnovsky if we'd seen that one coming.
For other discussions of Weber, check out a debate on compensation at On The Forecheck, and Broad Street Hockey explains how even if the Predators are hoping to work out a trade, the Flyers have all the leverage. Not many weeks ago, Predators owners said they wouldn't be losing players over money, but at some point...