The Buffalo Sabres had seven days to match the Edmonton Oilers’ stunning seven-year, $50 million offer to 23-year-old restricted free agent Thomas Vanek, but the Sabres didn’t even need seven minutes to match the offer.
“The message is that we aren’t going to become a farm team for the other NHL teams,” said Buffalo general manager Darcy Regier.
Regier said he had “gotten wind” on Thursday that the Oilers were preparing an offer sheet for Vanek, a 43-goal scorer, and he called Edmonton general manager Kevin Lowe to inform him that it would be a fruitless effort because he intended to match. The Sabres had drafted Vanek fifth overall in 2003, developed him and watched him blossom into a star, and they weren’t going to allow him to leave for the compensation of four first-round draft picks.
“I guess they thought we were bluffing,”Regier said.