Le Affaire Du Vanek
As we all know, Thomas Vanek signed a seven year, $50 million offer sheet from the Edmonton Oilers on Friday, which was matched in about 13 second by the Buffalo Sabres.
The surprise is not the offer sheet, the player, or even the amount, really. The surprise is the team making the offer and the reaction it elicited from the Sabres front office.
A little background, here: The day prior, Kevin, the Oilers GM, re-acquired his third round draft choice and defenseman Allen Rourke from the New York Islanders, and noses were twitching that he was going to present an offer sheet-teams need their own draft choices in hand to present offer sheets. But the compensation for the sheet to Vanek doesn't include a third rounder.
That means Lowe is probably making another sheet, for less money, in the near future. Anyhow, that ends the background portion of our blog.
The reason it's surprising is that Edmonton is a "small market team" that was one of the teams that supposedly had to hold ranks with the others, like Buffalo, against the New Yorks, Detroits and Philadelphias that were making the lockout a joke by signing big name free agents to big money deals. (Yeah, I know that ignores that teams like Montreal, Buffalo and others made massive offers to free agents like Chris Drury, Danny Briere and Scott Gomez, and that Briere turned down more money to go to the Flyers and Drury refused an identical deal from Buffalo to sign with he Rangers...Big Markets are ruining the sport, remember?)
Equally stunning to me was the Sabres reaction. They villified Lowe. They stated flat out that the next Oiler RFA was getting a sheet from Buffalo. They basically made Lowe out to be the Devil incarnate. They also took their pokes at the Flyers and Rangers.
Here's the thing-their negotiation strategy for Vanek was to sit on their hands and let somebody make an offer sheet and then match. It's been rumored in a few places that they didn't open negotiations with Vanek's agents because they knew he was getting an offer sheet anyhow. Why the Hell are you mad at Lowe? He did all your work for you? If you wanted TV at a lower rate, you should have made the call and hammered out the deal yourselves.
More Sabres Stuff
I know Sabres fans don't like other team's fans talking about their team, and I am not trying to be disrespectful. I usually agree with the way the Sabres handle things, and even with the mistakes I feel they have made this off-season I expect them to ice a good club this season.
I am still trying to figure out how they negotiated a deal with Chris Drury in February and then "forgot" about it. It probably cost them Captain Clutch as Drury was known in Buffalo. It definitely was a PR hit, regardless and forced them to match what was a pretty high offer for Vanek.
Regardless, had the Sabres handled renegotiations in a more timely manner, they could have avoided the PR disaster that the first week of the free agency period has been.
Teemu Selanne a FLYER?!?!?!?!?!?
When Eklund broke this little E4 gem in the chat room, the response was.....one of disbelief, then we engaged in a no way, wow, oh BS, battle with Rangers and Ducks fans in the chat.
Tim Panaccio, erstwhile Flyers beat writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer was pretty quick to dismiss it, basically over limited cap space and the team needing an enforcer.
Still it was like manna in the desert to Flyers fans whose free agency period started with a huge bang-Briere, Joni Pitkanen trade to Edmonton-and now had slowed to a trickle of sludgy water.
Looking at the roster and the rumors I have heard, Sealnne still doesn't make much sense. His arrival would still leave the team without an enforcer and would push another winger to a 4th line role or out of town. The Flyers have also been trying to trade Denis Gauthier with no success at all for quite awhile. Adding Selanne puts them over the cap and would make Gauthier even harder to trade for any kind of value and retards the development of a kid like Scottie Upshall if he stays.
BIG BERT STRIKES IT RICH
Man, I want to get on Brian Burke's good side.
Islanders Make Up For Losing Smyth, Poti, Et Al.
Ok, despite Mike Bossy's pathetic plea with angry fans on the team's website, I like what the Islanders did. I think Bill Guerin is a better player than Smyth. Mike Comrie is a maturing and talented playmaker, Rusty Fedotenko is a good little player with guts and grit, they got rid of Yashin and Tom Poti was an inconsistent player. Garth Snow is not done and the Isles still have an excellent goalie and a damned good head coach.
They might not be as good as they were when the season ended, but they have time and resources.