It seems as though the Sabres franchise knew this was coming. Edmonton Oilers GM Kevin Lowe needs to bring in a marquee player, and Thomas Vanek was on his hit list. Buffalo GM Darcy Regier said no way, Vanek is staying in town, and we'll match any offer sheet you throw at him.
Well, Lowe tried to call Regier's bluff, but Darcy wasn't bluffing. The 7-year, $50 million pitch to Vanek is a heavy price to pay for a 23 year old hockey player, but Vanek was mentioned in the same sentence this past hockey season as Crosby, Malkin, Ovechkin and Parise. You've got to pay to play, so to speak, and Buffalo did just that.
Kevin Lowe made a costly error, however, that is going to spell disaster for the Edmonton Oilers in the near future. Lowe just cost Buffalo $6 million more for this upcoming season, and who knows how much for the next. You can bet the Sabres are ticked off at Lowe and the Oilers for this move, and revenge might be very sweet for the Sabres. Rob Shremp is a naturally skilled goal scorer from Syracuse, NY, somewhat of a local product in Buffalo's market. Once he breaks out in the NHL, he will become a coveted RFA, much like Vanek is today. You can be sure that if Buffalo has the space and the picks available, they'll make a run at him. They sure do have the motivation.
On a side note, unless he shows some unexpected brilliance before the end of the summer, Kevin Lowe will be looking for work after the upcoming season. Heck, I wouldn't be surprised if he's fired before the end of 2007-2008.
Until next time...