“And it wasn’t just about that player,” Regier told ESPN.com. “With the situation of losing both [Chris] Drury and [Daniel] Briere [to free agency] and saying that we were going to keep our young players together, then seeing the offer sheet to Vanek — it was a statement by the organization to say, ‘Listen, we’re not vulnerable.’ It was important from so many directions, from inside the locker room to outside the locker room with the fans and making a statement to the rest of the league.”
We can’t help but harp back to the Edmonton angle. Not only would the Oilers not have Penner on their hands right now if the Sabres had not matched, but they would have an elite forward to play with star winger Ales Hemsky, something the local Edmonton media has pointed out as a major issue with right now.
For as much heat as former Oilers GM/now team president Kevin Lowe got around the league in the summer of 2007, give him credit on this point — he was right about Vanek being worth the money.
It’s strange to think about this team without Thomas Vanek, especially after a game like last night. It’s an odd “what if?”, but it’s very clear that things would be much different if that summer went like the Sabres had planned.
So… quickly: Thomas Vanek, or Chris Drury?