Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren refers to himself as a "glass half-full kind of guy."

Looking at it that way, the Flyers have a good chance to land massive defenseman Shea Weber. After all, no team has ever matched the type of contract the Flyers have offered the restricted free agent - 14 years for $110 million.

Nashville has until 11:30 p.m. Wednesday to match the deal, and if it does, Weber remains the Predators' cornerstone.

But for those who tend to look at the glass as being half-empty, here's a sobering thought: Since the lockout in 2005, just one of the six restricted free agents who was given an offer sheet didn't return to his original team.

One for six. That's a .166 percentage. Hey, even Mario Mendoza (career average: .215) hit better than that.

Still, there is a sense of optimism in Flyerdom.

"It's pretty exciting, but we have to wait a little more before we can imagine what it would be like to have him in our lineup," Flyers center Danny Briere said in a text.

Weber, who turns 27 next month, plays like a young Chris Pronger. With an edge. With physicality. With a persona that says to opposing forwards who gather near the slot, "Hey, this is my territory, pal."

He plays in all situations, quarterbacks the power play with a 100 m.p.h.-plus shot, and supplies the type of offense the Flyers have rarely seen from one of their defensemen. He has scored 99 goals in the last seven seasons, which is more than any NHL defenseman in that span.

To me, with no disrespect meant to Ottawa's Erik Karlsson, Weber is the NHL's best all-around defenseman.

Last season, Karlsson edged Weber for the Norris Trophy, given to the league's top defenseman.

Karlsson, a speedy 6-foot, 180-pounder, won because of his offense (78 points), but he doesn't compare to the 6-4, 232-pound Weber on the defensive side.

You could make the argument that Boston's mammoth Zdeno Chara is a better all-around player than Weber. But Chara is 35, and while still one of the league's premier defensemen, his best days are probably behind him. Weber is 81/2 years younger than Chara and just reaching his prime.

So you can understand why Holmgren made a rare offer sheet to the restricted free agent.

For years, general managers have had a sort of gentlemen's agreement not to pursue RFAs. How else do you explain why there have been only seven offer sheets presented between the summer of 2005 and today.

For Holmgren, the timing of his strike was perfect - for three reasons.

With the collective-bargaining agreement set to expire Sept. 15 and owners pushing for a reduced year limit on contracts, long-term deals like the one offered to Weber may become obsolete. The longer the term, of course, the lower the cap hit.

Pronger's concussion symptoms make it unlikely he will ever play again. Weber is a younger version of Pronger, with a little more offensive firepower.

Having been rejected by marquee unrestricted free agents Zach Parise and Ryan Suter earlier this month, Holmgren - and undoubtedly, Ed Snider, chairman of the Flyers' parent company, Comcast-Spectacor - knew they still needed a major piece if they were going to improve on last year's disappointing second-round playoff exit.

That makes one wonder what Holmgren will do if Nashville retains Weber. Will he throw a truckload of money at unrestricted free-agent Shane Doan, an aging winger who is still productive after all these years? Will he go back to pursuing a trade for Bobby Ryan or Rick Nash? Will he make some other GMs unhappy by taking a shot at another restricted free agent such as Winnipeg forward Evander Kane or Montreal defenseman P.K. Subban?

Those are scenarios Holmgren and the Flyers hope they don't have to address. Clearly, Weber would be their Christmas present in July. He is just the piece the Flyers need - more so than Parise, Suter, Nash, Ryan, or anyone else.

For now, Nashville GM David Poile - whose father, Bud, was the first general manager of the Flyers - is on the clock. From here, there is no way he allows Weber to go to the Flyers for four compensatory No. 1 draft picks, which is what the Predators would get if they don't match the offer sheet.

Yes, those No. 1 draft selections could turn out to be a Claude Giroux or a Mike Richards, centers who were picked late in the first round. But they could just as easily be players who turn out to be Maxime Ouellet or Jeff Woywitka.

If small-market Nashville decides it can't afford to match the $110 million offer - and its real stumbling block will be the $27 million in the first calendar year, and the $68 million over the first five seasons - then it would behoove the Predators to work out a trade and save face with what will be an irate fan base.

The Predators could tell the Flyers they will not sign the offer sheet in exchange for some players. Nashville would then get the four No. 1 picks and orchestrate a deal. Let's say they keep a pair of No. 1 picks and give the Flyers two No. 1s back in exchange for players. The Flyers might give them a list of players available - perhaps Matt Read, Andrej Meszaros, Marc-Andre Bourdon, Erik Gustaffson, and top prospect Nick Cousins - and tell them they can have two of them.

If Nashville thinks the list is bare bones, and it needs guys such as Sean Couturier, Luke Schenn, or Brayden Schenn, Holmgren can call its bluff. He can turn it down and hope Nashville doesn't match the offer.

It's a game of high-stakes poker, and thanks to Snider, Holmgren seems to have more chips at his disposal.

Inside the Flyers: Weber and Compensation Game

If Nashville doesn't sign the offer sheet, and a deal is not worked out with the Flyers for restricted free agent Shea Weber, the Predators will get the Flyers' next four No. 1 draft picks. To gain some perspective into what that could turn out to be, here are the Flyers' No. 1 picks since 1995. They did not have No. 1 selections in 1997, 2004, 2009 or 2010.

Year       Player              Overall pick NHL games

2012       Scott Laughton          20th No opportunity yet

2011       Sean Couturier          8th                    77

2008       Luca Sbisa                19th                    195

2007       James van Riemsdyk    2d                    196

2006       Claude Giroux             22d                    285

2005       Steve Downie             29th                    272

2003       Jeff Carter                11th                     516

2003       Mike Richards             24th                    527

2002       Joni Pitkanen             4th                    513

2001       Jeff Woywitka             27th                   278

2000       Justin Williams          28th                    707

1999       Maxime Oullet             22d                    12

1998       Simon Gagne             22d                    761

1996       Danius Zubrus          15th                 1,065

1995       Brian Boucher             22d                   324

- Sam Carchidi

EndText

Contact Sam Carchidi at scarchidi@phillynews.com, or on Twitter @BroadStBull.