Thomas Vanek must be great in bed. Or at least, he must be great in the locker room, since Edmonton and Buffalo just got done fighting over him. Buffalo will re-sign the up-and-coming-but-still-kind-of-unproven young Vanek, but not without oodles of controversy.
Apparently, Kevin Lowe, universally-admired GM of the Oilers, temporarily went totally f-cking bat sh-t crazy and decided to make a 7-year, $50 million offer to Vanek, which included FOUR first round draft picks to Buffalo because he is still a restricted free agent. Four first round picks. FOUR. And a 7-year deal. For $50 million.
Not to be outdone in the genius department, Buffalo GM Darcy Regier then matched the offer, which Vanek, likely realizing the impossibility that anything this balls-out amazing will ever happen to him again, is sure to sign. His pay last year was $942 thousand. This coming season he will make $5 million, and that's just the beginning. The breakdown of his income over the length of the contract, in millions of dollars, will be: 5, 5, 6.4, 6.4, 6.4, 6.4, 6.4. That's right. No matter how good he becomes---or how bad he gets---Vanek is guaranteed to make over $6 million for five straight seasons, starting in 2009-10. Bear in mind that he's only had one good season in his limited NHL career. He could still totally choke.
Obviously, so-called "small market" teams like Edmonton and Buffalo are not exactly short on cash to throw around, just short on brains.