Friday, July 06, 2007

Vanek to Remain a Sabre

The Edmonton Oilers came knocking on the door of Thomas Vanek with a great big offer sheet, but the Buffalo Sabres brass quickly slammed it in the face of Kevin Lowe and decided to keep the young Austrian to themselves. The Sabres will match the Oilers offer of 7 years and $50 million, including signing bonuses, instead of taking the four first round draft picks in return.

With Drury, Briere and Zubrus already out of the picture in Buffalo, it would have been a strain for most fans to have much respect left if Vanek did. But in large part to the fact that Drury got away from management, they had money to protect the likes of Vanek. He'll be a very good winger for the Sabres, if he wasn't already, who will earn his keep of $6.4 million in the last five years of his deal.

Still, the Sabres may not be a great source of points for us poolies though. What is the Sabres really going to be like come October? Will they manage with the grit and youth they have? It remains to be seen. They are almost done all of their major signings and they'll have to wait for a couple arbitration hearings before they're set... but this is how it's all shaping up so far:

Maxim AfinogenovTim ConnollyThomas Vanek
Derek Roy *Jason PominvilleJochen Hecht
Drew StaffordNathan Paetsch *Ales Kotalik
Paul GaustadDan Paille *Adam Mair
Brian CampbellTeppo Numminen
Dimitri KalininJaroslav Spacek
Toni LydmanHenrik Tallinder
Ryan Miller
Jocelyn Thibault

* Restricted Free Agent

At this point today, this line-up is already worth $41 million, without the three signings and Jocelyn Thibault's yet to be disclosed salary. The Vanek signing has hit the budget quite hard and Derek Roy's arbitration hearing won't be a pretty sound when that comes down. It'll be tough to believe the same Buffalo Sabres may not have the same bite as the last few years... but their years of young, cheap talent has now since past (as predicted by many) and reaped no Cups.

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