Shea Weber, Nashville's franchise defenseman, politely declined to talk about almost being a Flyer after the Predators' morning skate Thursday at the Wells Fargo Center.

On Thursday night, Weber will face the Flyers for the first time since they signed him to a 14-year, $110 million offer sheet in the summer of 2012.

Nashville matched the offer for the 6-foot-4, 233-pound Weber, who was then a restricted free agent, and he remained with the Predators.

The Flyers had hoped Weber would replace Chris Pronger as THE MAN in their lineup.

Before the Predators matched the offer, there was hope among the Flyers that they would land one of the NHL's premier players.

"It was a pretty exciting to have him (here); I knew he was in town and was being shown the area and all that kind of stuff," winger Scott Hartnell said after Thursday's morning skate. "I think he really thought this was a great sports stop for him. If he didn't, I don't think he would have signed. I'm sure there were a few others trying to schmooze him and lure him to their team."

Added Hartnell: "I think for the first few days (after he signed with the Flyers) he was pretty confident that he'd be here, but obviously they ended up matching it, so it was probably more of a mindset adjustment for him to go back to the team. But I think it's water under the bridge for them now. He's playing great hockey, but you can't really look back at that too much."

Weber, 28, who leads NHL defensemen with 11 goals but is minus-15, refused to talk about almost joining the Flyers.

"Obviously I'm a Nashville Predator and I love it here and love the organization," he said.

Weber had an eye injury and didn't face the Flyers when they scored a 3-2 shootout win Nov. 30 in Nashville.

"He's a big body and he doesn't just hit to get the puck; he hits to hurt. He's so strong," Hartnell said. "He's got one of the heaviest shots in the league…so we have to be prepared for what he brings. They're a totally different team with him."

The Flyers would have been, too.

Breakaways. Hartnell plans to play Thursday with a sore ankle.....Coach Craig Berube said Steve Downie, a healthy scratch the last two contests, will be a game-time decision. Expect him to play.....Steve Mason will oppose Carter Hutton, who was briefly a Flyer.

Follow Sam Carchidi on Twitter @BroadStBull.