Nothing quite says “panic button” like having to give a third-year player with a sketchy playoff history $50 million dollars after watching your two best players walk for less money.
They had to sign him. The contract is astronomical. Vanek is certainly not worth $50 million at this point in his career, but after parting ways with Drury and Briere, Darcy and the boys had to pull the trigger. There’s no way in the world that they could have explained losing three of their best players in the same offseason without replacing them.
In the press conference, Darcy seemed a bit peeved with Oilers GM Kevin Lowe, deeming his offer to Vanek “a move of futility.” Sorry Darcy, not buying it. Lowe acted within his rights. He tried to offer Vanek something that you couldn’t match. I’m sure his thinking was something like, “Hey, it’s worth a shot.” Honestly, I’ve always been puzzled by the fact that RFA’s don’t get more offers, especially from their conference and division. Couldn’t this be a great tactical move to hike up the price? For example, Sidney Crosby becomes a RFA after next season. Why wouldn’t the Flyers offer him an insane contract that would push Pittsburgh to the cap? If Pittsburgh matches, they are at the cap. If they don’t, you gain an all-world player and have a new face for your franchise. Granted, I didn’t do any number crunching and I am basically ignoring the cap situation Philly (just the first Atlantic Division team that came to my head), but it seems as if this could happen.
Basically, Vanek’s insane contract just adds to the nightmare that is the 2007 offseason. The Sabres were forced to choose between becoming a rebuilding team (those four first-rounders would look awful nice if we were rebuilding) or continuing to believe they are a contender. Let’s hope they made the right choice, because Thomas Vanek at over $7 million per doesn’t do us any good if we are the number 9 seed.