I re-edited this post because I thought it was a fun discussion!:
I feel bad for Buffalo, because Lowe basically forced their team into overpaying for Vanek, though he did sign the offer sheet. But still, I think if a player signs an offer sheet, let him go. He obviously isn't willing to sacrifice for the sake of his own teams benefit.(Meaning, go into arbitration and/or work out an agreement both healthy for the player and for the team) Having locked him down in such a high contract, he basically makes their team less of a contender because they couldn't hold onto key guys like Drury, Briere or even re sign replacements.
I think GM's should send a message to players by letting them walk. Offersheets in a way ruin the salary cap system by forcing teams to overpay for a player. Plus GM's like Lowe purposely target teams like Buffalo to basically force them into a bad position. Burke made the right move, Buffalo's GM didn't.
With the cap space free'd from Vanek Buffalo still could've made some signings. Plus those picks are good bargaining chips at the deadline to lure in some really good players. Personally I feel it was a dumb move. They still have guys like Pomminville, Afinogenov, etc to work with. Those picks could've landed them somebody big. Think about this proposal.
They just lost Vanek for 4 1st round picks. Edmonton ends up overpaying out their ass for Vanek, a player who played extremely well when surrounded by really good players. That having been said, Vanek is being overpayed on any team without really good offense.
You save that X million a season, gain 4 picks.
1) Sign extremely good UFA to replace Vanek
2) Sign another UFA to replace either Drury/Briere
3) Insert even all 4 picks, 2 marginal players who are basically a salary dump, get a cheaper version of Vanek from another team.
So now you have players to replace Vanek/Briere/Drury.
Yet now that u signed the offersheet u only have Vanek period.
Pretty dump move imo by their GM. I can understand though, I honestly can. He's the highest point getter their team has left, a 40g scoring phenom. If it were Koivu getting the offersheet as a habs fan, I would say sign him (duh) even at overpayment. But that brings me back to my original point about how offersheets are ruining the game.
Basically teams should be left to their own devices when signing/trading/etc their own players. Offersheets are sort of unfair ways to force a team into a high cost extension. It's not fair, offersheets can end up crippling a team for years, and it can F you both ways, whether your offering a dumb offer, or recieving.