I thought I would share a little bit more on the Thomas Vanek situation. I'll try my best to sum up the whole deal from every standpoint. I'll start by saying that I am extremely excited the Sabres matched the offer because Thomas Vanek is a key component of the Sabres future.
From Thomas Vanek's standpoint
I don't think anyone can blame Thomas Vanek for signing the offer sheet. The players are smart when the negotiate the best deal for themselves. In no way was this an indication that Thomas Vanek wanted to join Chris Drury, Danny Briere, Dainius Zubrus, Jay McKee and Mike Grier as being an ex-Sabre. I think that Vanek was well aware that the Sabres would match any offer he recieved so this deal means that Vanek wanted to be a Sabre for a long time.
I am happy for Vanek but along with a big contract comes huge expectations. Vanek had an outstanding season scoring 43 goals but even more will be expected of him in the years to come. Vanek will undoubtedly be the highest paid Buffalo Sabre which automatically makes him a leader. I would expect the Sabres to ask a lot more of Vanek this season. I wouldn't even be surprised if they put the C on the front of his jersey next season. I do think a more likely scenario would be to put the C on Numminen and allow Vanek to be an assistant captain this season.
Last season Vanek was just another face in the crowd despite his goal scoring capabilities because Chris Drury and Danny Briere were the face of the franchise but things became much different today. I think Vanek will respond to the challenge the same way he did this season after being benched in 05-06 playoffs.
From the Oilers standpoint
This was a team that is becoming desperate and is looking for some help in anyway they can get it. It's hard to believe that they are only a little over a year removed from playing in the Stanley Cup Finals. First came the Chris Pronger fiasco that ended up turning out much better for Pronger than it did for the Oilers. Next came the Michael Nylander fiasco earlier in the week, and today came a huge offer sheet that did not turn out the way they would have liked.
Unlike Larry Quinn and Darcy Regier, who are very upset with the Oilers, I feel sorry for Edmonton. This is a city who has had it's share of talented players play there and has a very successful history but has now hit rock bottom. The question for Edmonton is where do they go from here? Do they take a stab at other Restricted free agents like Zach Parise or Lee Stempniak?
From the Buffalo Sabres standpoint
First of all they have to be thrilled to death that they have Thomas Vanek locked up for the next seven seasons. One look into the clubs finances sheds a little of that joy and turns it into panic. The team still has to try to negotiate a long term deal with Derek Roy before he goes to arbitration because he may get the same kind of money that Briere got last season. Based on my calculations, and assuming the Sabres will spend about $48 million, the Sabres have about $8 million left to spend. This figure is not including the assumed contracts of Derek Roy, Nathan Paetsch and Daniel Paille.
The team decide that Thomas Vanek was the guy they were going to build there franchise around and gave him a huge payday. I'm sure the main phrase around HSBC Arena is... what do we do now.
So I ask you what is your take on the Sabres move to retain Vanek... Do you like it? Hate it? or still indifferent?