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Edmonton's Plan B

Five days after losing out on Michael Nylander, the Oilers have signed Buffalo's Thomas Vanek to an offer sheet. From

Sources tell TSN that the team has signed forward Thomas Vanek to a seven-year, $50 million offer sheet, a signing that carries a price tag of four first round picks as compensation to the Buffalo Sabres if the team chooses not to retain him.
The deal would pay Vanek $5 million in the first two seasons, and $6.4 million in each of the following five seasons. The contract will also pay him a $5 million signing bonus in each of the first two years.
Vanek finished fifth in the league in goals with 43 and 19th in points with 84 in only his second season.

So what should Buffalo do? Keep in mind the Sabres have already lost Chris Drury and Daniel Briere.

Update: As many of you have seen by now, the Sabres have decided to match. Also from

Sabres general manager Darcy Regier called a media conference on Friday afternoon to announce that the team would match the offer.

Note: I"m going to be away from my computer probably for the rest of the day, and then will be covering golf out at Congressional on Satuday and Sunday. I'll do my best to update with Caps/NHL news.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  July 6, 2007; 12:00 PM ET
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Next: Caps Announce Development Camp Schedule


7 yrs, $50 million, and 4 first round draft picks. Edmonton's getting desperate.

Given that they've already lost Briere and Drury, if I were Buffalo I might take the picks and start a rebuilding campaign of some sort, possibly by trying to trade up for Tavares in a couple years.

If I were an Edmonton fan.... well, I'd be getting worried by now.

Posted by: I like Laich and Fehr is Fair | July 6, 2007 12:19 PM | Report abuse

Wow, if this goes through Buffalo is toast for the next few years. What do they have left at this point?

Posted by: EricS | July 6, 2007 12:20 PM | Report abuse

Edmonton is desperate, but so should be Sabres. They must match.

"Despite having plenty of cash, draft picks and holes to fill, Lowe was turned away by all of the big name free agents he approached over the last week including Paul Kariya, Slava Kozlov and, most embarrassing of all, former Flames cast-off Michael Nylander.

The sordid Nylander case illustrates perfectly just how undesirable Edmonton has become in some people's eyes as his wife rejected his agreed upon deal with the team "like she was being sent to Siberia."

Instead, she insisted he sacrifice several million dollars so they could raise their five kids amidst the gunfire and politics of hockey hotbed Washington -- one of America's most violent cities. "

Posted by: alexovetjkin | July 6, 2007 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Thats it, i don't want to hear any small market teams complaining about the haves and have-nots. Edmonton is going out of its way to hand out a $50M contract.

Way to go Kevin Lowe, way to screw up every one's salary expectations. If Vanek is worth $50M/7 years what do you think Ov / Semin / Crosby will ask for????

I bet four letter words are flying all over the place in NHL headquarters, and champaign bottles are popping in agent offices all over North America...

Lowe, you are officially the idiot of the NHL village...

Posted by: Genotype55 | July 6, 2007 12:25 PM | Report abuse

If I were Buffalo, I'd take the picks and run... or trade the picks for another player. They don't want to be in cap purgatory for seven years. That's an untradable contract.

Caps should be extra thrilled they got Nylander now.

Posted by: Rob | July 6, 2007 12:26 PM | Report abuse

I said what I had to say in the last thread, so I'll just reiterate my main point: Lowe is far, far beyond desperation and has reached the point of selling his team's future in an attempt to quell an enraged fan base instead of crafting a trade that would cause less collateral damage to Edmonton's future prospects and cap space.

Posted by: HolyOlie | July 6, 2007 12:28 PM | Report abuse

HA! Buffalo matched it.

Posted by: HolyOlie | July 6, 2007 12:35 PM | Report abuse

For me Vanek is better than either Drury or Brier. He is worth it.

Posted by: alexovetjkin | July 6, 2007 12:39 PM | Report abuse


The press conference with the Sabres has revealed that the Buffalo Sabres fully intend to match the Oilers' offer sheet. GM Darcy Regier said he contacted Kevin Lowe last night and tried to persuade him not to make the offer, that they were always going to match whatever offer the Oilers might make. Larry Quinn's statement: "We were never not going to match an offer on Thomas."

Posted by: Anonymous | July 6, 2007 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Guess who will be giving OV / Semin RFA offer when they are eligible? Lowe will want his pound of flesh as revenge, and he is obviously desperate.

GMGM better look up the Russians before they become RFAs.....

Posted by: Genotype55 | July 6, 2007 12:41 PM | Report abuse

As bad as this deal is for Edmonton, I like seeing teams bid on RFAs. Last year (Kessler I think) was the first time I remember ever seeing one bid on.

If I'm Buffalo though, I bid. Vanek is only going to get better, Drury and Briere will be hitting their peak soon if they haven't already whereas Vanek is still on the climb up.

Posted by: Yosh | July 6, 2007 12:43 PM | Report abuse

The village idiot position has been filled by Gary Bettman.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 6, 2007 12:44 PM | Report abuse

I don't know where they're hearing it or reading it, but over on the Oilers board there's word going around that Buffalo is promising to "return the favor" to Edmonton as soon as they can draft the papers.

It's like Thunderdome.

Posted by: HolyOlie | July 6, 2007 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Genotype55--GMGM better look up the Russians before they become RFAs...

GMGM/the Caps will announce OV's new contract after the start of the season. Semin, however, is a different story. Does anyone know when his contract expires? If it were me, I'd see how he performs this year prior to starting negotiations. One could argue that his price tag will skyrocket if he performs on the same level this year...but then again, what if last year was a fluke?

/not trying to be pessimistic

Posted by: Yosh | July 6, 2007 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Hmm. I would think Semin would care more about finding the right fit than Ovechkin. Then again, he is from Siberia...

And if Ted has any brains, there's no way he doesn't match any offer sheet for Ovechkin.

Posted by: tallbear | July 6, 2007 12:56 PM | Report abuse


Semin has one year and $1.2M left on his contract.

Posted by: Genotype55 | July 6, 2007 1:01 PM | Report abuse

reposted from previous thread:
I've been watching the Drury vs Gomez vs Briere vs Nylander discussions and one thing that is NOT being discussed is one of the more important aspects of being a center, faceoff win percentage. Can anyone provide any of those numbers? That stat alone is what made Adam Oates such a great addition a few years back, he was almost automatic.

Posted by: Lordthrog | July 6, 2007 1:03 PM | Report abuse


Per stats.

Briere - 49.6%
Drury - 58.8%
Gomez - 52.2%
Nylander - 47.5%

Posted by: Yosh | July 6, 2007 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Face off percentage courtesy of

Drury 58.8
Gomez 52.2
Briere 49.6
Nylander 47.5

Posted by: freakinandpeakin | July 6, 2007 1:17 PM | Report abuse

damn you Yosh and your supper speedy typing abilities. :)

Posted by: freakinandpeakin | July 6, 2007 1:24 PM | Report abuse

I've always thought the RFAs are fair game -- there's no reason to cut any slack for GMs who want to underpay their young players. Buffalo wasted time trying to resign Vanek on the cheap, and paid for it. Ouch! Talk about the final nail in the coffin. They'll still not dead, just stripped naked and buried under a heap of front-loaded cash for a couple of years.

It almost feels like for every team, the very possibility of being a contender comes down to how much of a discount their young stars are willing to give.

After this, though, the Caps are faced with two juicy RFA dilemmas:

1. Ovechkin. In any case, the Caps are kind of at his mercy, with Vanek's offer sheet being pretty much the starting point. They might get better value if they offer him a real long contract, but then they have to take on a lot of risk, e.g. injury. Personally, I think if the Caps seriously want to contend, they have to eat the long term risk, and minimize the annual salary at all costs, so that they have as much money as possible for other players.

2. Semin. McPhee has to decide pretty much now if Semin is worth keeping as part of the core, or if he is an uninspired, one-dimensional player who is going to be overvalued because of his stats, and so eventually must be let go in exchange for players that will give better value for the money. If Semin is part of the plan, right now is the best time to lock him up, before he starts scoring 50 a season playing with Backstrom. Jason Blake could be a good comparable, IMO. If Semin is not part of the plans, and plays out this year without an extension, I think this could very well be his last year as a Capital. Unless he gives the Caps a really big discount, which would be a small miracle (especially given his greedy sob of an agent), I think they will move him, before somebody like Lowe swoops in with a huge RFA offer sheet.

Posted by: Vlad | July 6, 2007 1:42 PM | Report abuse

if ovechkin's locked up early on a long-term, semi-discounted dollar deal (say 8 years, cap hit of 6.5 or so per), it not only locks him up; it puts a ceiling on semin's deal, as it seems crazy anyone would ask for more than ovy's getting. it'd be a good move on many levels to go ahead and get it done with alex I.

Posted by: pgreene | July 6, 2007 1:45 PM | Report abuse


How will this situation affect the Caps when time to resign Ovechkin and Semin?

Posted by: Big Papi | July 6, 2007 2:02 PM | Report abuse


Get AO done first; if he wants 10 years give him 10 years, and let's have that done by tomorrow if possible. Maybe I'll even buy a jersey.

I hope they can keep Semin as well, but I'm sure Buffalo fans were hoping to keep Briere and Drury. Sometimes it's just not in the cards.

It is funny/tragic how desparate Lowe is. Again, the idiot could have avoided all this if he'd just sucked it up and re-signed Smyth. I love the "if I had known then what I know now" whine. Tough s--t.. that's the job!


Posted by: Oneal | July 6, 2007 2:02 PM | Report abuse

$6.4 for Vanek and $6.5 for Ovechkin? You have got to be kidding me! Ovechkin (and his mother) are not idiots... I see Ovechkin not negotiating his deal until the new year. He can post crazy numbers with Nylander. I see Ovechkin getting a mega $$$$$ deal. And no, it will not be $6.5 or even $7.5.

Posted by: Finn | July 6, 2007 2:10 PM | Report abuse

As stated above, resigning OV should be the #1 priority. I just don't think it will be done before the start of the season...maybe timed to coincide with the start of the season. I seem to remember this being done with someone (I think Bondra) years back.

As for Semin, I think I'm probably in the minority, but I wait to see how he performs through atleast the first few months of next season. I'm not sure if I want him long term if he continues on his trend of taking so many shifts/nights off...or playing when it suits him.

Next year's free agent market is supposed to be much stronger than this year' if the Caps take a pass on Semin, there's someone else out there for the 4-5.5 million he's gonna cost.

Posted by: Yosh | July 6, 2007 2:13 PM | Report abuse

I am not sure that any of us can overestimate the amount of ill will Semin created for himself with management when he threw the puck down the ice last year after a penalty call.

That kind of reaction does not fit in with the team philosophy that I think Glen Hanlon is trying to build.

Maybe it was immaturity, maybe it was personality but maybe it doesn't make any difference if its unacceptable to mgmt.

I really think that Semin may be on the way out if he doesn't get his act together. He may be on the trading block (who knows the way GMGM plays his cards) or maybe the Caps would take the picks if he were signed as a RFA.

Stats don't tell the whole story with Semin. You can't act like he has without the team paying a price. Let's hope thats all behind him.

Posted by: Muddapucker | July 6, 2007 2:27 PM | Report abuse

The discussion about Semin is wrong, because Ted himself likes the guy.

Posted by: Finn | July 6, 2007 2:29 PM | Report abuse

Once again, more evidence that the NHL will soon be even more out of whack. The idea of extending offers to other teams RFA's is dangerous and escalatory at best. It drives up the price of impending RFA's and seems to really damage this sport. Look at this Edm/Buf situation: Vanek had 43 goals last year on an exceptional Buffalo squad. Minus Drury, Briere and a host of intangibles, what kind of production would Vanek have next year? And why give up 4 1st rounders for one player if your team has been stripped of talent? Next year is a deep draft supposedly, and Lowe is willing to give up 4 years of drafts for one player who has only played 2 seasons, both with a stellar club. Its not like he has any other assets to trade for 1st round picks. That guy has lost his Fing mind and in so doing has skewed the pay scale. I don't mean to be melodramatic, but I think that the repurcussions are going to be huge. This offseason has proven that 1) Bettman's CBA is a complete joke and 2) more damage has been done to hockey by the CBA than the CBA that came before it. There was one season of balance and then back to mayhem. Lowe, you idiot, what have you done?

Posted by: MM | July 6, 2007 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Please stop comparing AO to Drury or Briere. Both of those players were UNRESTRICTED free agents. AO is a restricted free agent. They are playing in different pools.

AO is not going anywhere. Same goes for Semin.

Posted by: freakinandpeakin | July 6, 2007 2:46 PM | Report abuse

If Lowe can offer $50 mil to Vanek, I am sure there will be a GM next year who will offer even more to Ovechkin. RFA or not, players like Ovechkin do not become available every year.

Posted by: Finn | July 6, 2007 2:48 PM | Report abuse

I swear some of you just don't understand business. Ted and the Caps have hitched their franchise to AO through promotion, advertising, marketing, etc.

There is no offer that won't be matched. this isn't Vanek, who may be a nice player but is not the face of the franchise...and of the league. AO is the face of the franchise and one of the faces of the league, what that means to a franchise in a business sense is so different than what Vanek means to Buffalo.

From both a hockey and business perspective, the Capitals cannot afford to not sign AO. And they will sign him.

Posted by: freakinandpeakin | July 6, 2007 3:05 PM | Report abuse

Well, for those of you who HAVE played NHL '07, thank god that people aren't actually going to act like that.

Ovechkin isn't dumb. I don't believe that he is going to bankrupt a team just to afford his salary. he won't be cheap, but i don't think that he will ask for so much that they won't be able to sign someone else to come play with him.

Semin could be trouble, though, and mainly because we don't know whether he actually feels any real teamsmanship (i know that isn't a word. wait, is it?). anyway, if possible, I would sign him immediately. He will eventually mature, and when he does, he will be explosive. You'll remember him getting kicked off the Russian World team this year. He was pissed, but it may have finally taught him the lesson he needed. We can only hope.

Backstrom, depending he is as good as everyone says (and we all hope) he is, he also seems like the kind of person who will take a paycut to play with a good group of players.

One of the things GMGM has always said, and Hanlon, too, was that they drafted guys based on skill, but also on character. I think that, at least, Ovechkin and Backstrom are good, strong, character guys who won't allow money to ruin everything.

I hope.

Posted by: DrinkingPartner | July 6, 2007 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and for those of you who HAVE NOT played '07:
the entire signing process is based on a performance - money ratio. If your player, whoever it may be, has scored 50 goals in the season, he will ask for about 5 million dollars. This is regardless of +/- or assists or anything else. They don't reason, and they don't take paycuts, EVER.

that's all I mean. most people aren't like that.

Posted by: DrinkingPartner | July 6, 2007 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Well, given the 20% rule, the most Ovechkin can get is ~11 mil per year anyway. Ted knows that Ovie is his meal ticket and the only way the Caps get on for what passes for national media coverage. He'll match.

Posted by: tallbear | July 6, 2007 3:16 PM | Report abuse

But still, $11 million a year is a huge amount, especially looking at a $50 million cap. I'm nto sure we could afford that much tied up in one player. But then again, I don't think Ovie will hold out for a huge amount of money. A raise, certainly, but like someone else said, I don't think he's the type of guy who would handcuff the club just for the sake of his salary.

But yeah, Lowe has just completely skewed the pay scale. Vanek's good, but in no way is he worth that much money. But, unfortunatly, peopel are probably going to use it as a benchmark and salaries will end up further inflated. Way to go, Kevin.

Posted by: Murshawursha | July 6, 2007 3:43 PM | Report abuse

I am sure that players will use this year's crazy free agent market (plus Vanek) to their advantage. That is the reason I am saying that Ovechkin will never settle for $6.5 mil. I think it will be close to $9 mil. Don't forget, Crosby will want a lot of money as well. Crosby and Ovechkin (and their respective agents/mothers) will be looking at each other. Both of them are way better than Drury, Gomez or Briere.

In my honest opinion Ovechkin is well worth the $9 or even $10 million. He can light it up here in DC. There is always hope when he gets the puck.

Posted by: Finn | July 6, 2007 3:59 PM | Report abuse

I don't know how Ted feels about Semin. I don't know Ted, but I do know that Hanlon was mad enough to chew nails and spit out tacks after that puck throwing incident. He was benched after that, as he should have been.

I am not down on Semin, I think he can be a phenom in the league. I surely hope that he will. His wrist shot is second to none. My point is that in order to be a true superstar its not all about skill.

If he (or anyone else) disrupts team chemistry then they may have to go. As much as Ted might like him, I believe he will support his coaches on that point.

Posted by: Muddapucker | July 6, 2007 4:15 PM | Report abuse

My point is that in order to be a true superstar its not all about skill.

I hope...nay, really hope...that the veteran presence that has just joined the team will have a positive influence on him. Hopefully, Nylander's and Kozlov's work ethic will inspire him.

Posted by: Yosh | July 6, 2007 4:29 PM | Report abuse

While Ovechkin is great, if you pay him or anybody 20% of the cap, you'll never contend - there won't be money left to put a good team around him. Especially in the case of the Caps, who are currently planning on staying way under the cap. Not saying its gonna come to that, just making an observation..

I also think that there is no way of really telling how much money Ovechkin's camp will want. Ovechkin may be a bright guy, but if a guy's agent is his MOTHER, it is obvious that he won't be calling all the shots. We've already seen what Mrs.Nylander pulled off, well, lets see how it goes with Mrs.Ovechkin.. maybe we should start sending her flowers! If Crosby signs an extension first, my feeling is that Ovechkin's camp will just ask for Crosby money. For now, Vanek has to be the starting point, pretty much.

With Semin, obviously he's the second priority, but still, the Caps can't wait too long to make up their mind on his future with the team. Take Zubrus, for instance - at the beginning of last year, Caps could've probably locked him up for a very nice price. But, there were some questions about his health, so the Caps waited, he had a good year statistically, declined their offer, got a very lump sum in free agency, and the Caps got.. not much. Its same with Semin - some people have questions about his "character", and urge the Caps to wait. Now, of course, Semin will only be an RFA, but after today, what confidence does anybody have that he won't get a fat offer sheet next summer? And if that is a real possibility, the Caps are better off either locking him up soon, or trading him for the right package during the season.

Posted by: Vlad | July 6, 2007 4:47 PM | Report abuse

Why is it that players never seem to understand that if they break the bank in getting thier money, they will never be able to have the players they need beside them on the ice(field,court or diamond).and to the same degree the GM's and the owners?

Posted by: GA.Capsfan | July 6, 2007 7:27 PM | Report abuse

All of these negative criticisms of Semin absolutely mystify me. "He's lazy." He's one dimentional," etc., etc. WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE?!!!!! The fact of the matter is that Sasha Semin is a bona fide SUPERSTAR!!
I truly believe all this Sasha bashing began when he chose NOT TO PLAY with Portland during the strike year. That must be it. Well, personally, I totally understand his reasoning. It would seem to me that any couch potatoe, wanna be athlete could understand. But, no! Not these so - called "Cap fans." Oh, no. Never that.
I ask you. Why in the world would one of the world's elite hockey players ( And, that's precisely what we've been blessed with )want to play in the AHL ( With a bunch of nobodies and retreads ) for one forth the $$$ he could make playing in his native country, against a much higher caliber of competition? And, please, please don't give me that, "He was under contract" bs. Because, that's ALL that is. Of course he should have returned home. YOU WOULD HAVE TOO.
The only other reason I can come up with for all this Sasha bashing is that somehow, his stellar play must threaten ( In some of your idiot minds ) Ovey's lofty status. In other words, some of you feel compelled to trash Sasha because you're so insecure regarding Ovey. Which is pathetically childish. So, you call Sasha "Lazy" because smoke and fire don't radiate from him as they do from Ovey. It reminds me so very much of the stupid comparisons people used to make regarding Willie Mays, as opposed to Henry Aaron. Ovey is like Willie. Sasha is like Aaron. But, both were extremely dangerous. And, both are in the Hall of Fame.
It's my sincere hope that GMGM isn't nearly as uninformed as most of you appear to be. And, he locks them both up for the next decade. It reminds me of those morons that agreed with letting Scott Stevens go for a bag of pucks. Which, as it turned out, was just about what those 5 first round draft choices turned out to be worth.
Just shut up and enjoy the two Russians magic. Be thankful they both wear Capitals' sweaters. We've been blessed.

Posted by: Puckguru | July 6, 2007 7:31 PM | Report abuse

Semin's attitude is what worries people. But yes, he's a superstar. The question is what kind? THe Ovechkin "super-cool guy" kind, or the Jagr "I'm going to leave a bad taste in your mouth" kind? As long as leans towards the former, all is well. The puck throwing incident (and he had closed his hand on the puck a few times before, remember) showed that his level of immaturity and unprofessionalism can be rather high, too high. If that type of behavior (that which hurts the club) can be curbed, the sky is the limit for Semin. He didn't pass towards the end of the year because it was as good as coughing up the puck; his linemates had a hard time keeping up. His line this year will be different. If he plays well with others and continues his stellar goal scoring then all naysayers will have to admit that GMGM's drafting has vastly improved. We are VERY lucky to have Semin. He's way better than Vanek. Look what he did on the lowly Caps!

Posted by: 007 | July 6, 2007 7:52 PM | Report abuse

Except you very rarely see Ovechkin take a lazy hooking penalty or pick up the puck and throw it down the ice. And there's some history with Semin's bad attitude. You remember when he missed a team flight last year? The Caps suing him and his agent?

All that said, there's absolutly no doubt that Semin is an extremly skilled player, and I'm gald to have him on our team. Here's to hoping all that crap is behind him (and to all indications it is) and we can resign him and Ovechkin for a good long while.

Posted by: Murshawursha | July 6, 2007 7:53 PM | Report abuse

There are things that Semin does that no other NHL player can do. His puck handling skills are out of this world and BETTER than Ovechkin's. His wrist shot is better than Ovechkins. Ovie is stronger than Semin and seems to have more drive and team desire. Semin's value cannot be overlooked though and keeping him along w/ Ovie and Kozlov make the Caps a much better team.
Semin just needs to work on being more steady and reliable and consistent. Both of these two are going to get very good money.

If I'm not mistaken since he has come into the league Ovie leads the NHL in Goals? If not he is 2 or 3. He is going to want the MOST money. He isn't going to give a discount. It is going to be very hard to keep him and the others like Semin.

The league should be concerned about this, because it doesn't encourage the players to stay with teams and build loyalty from fans or let small teams compete by holding on to fan favorites.
That being said if the Caps want to compete on the ice and at the box office they have to realize they are going to be at or near the top of the cap.

Posted by: capfan1 | July 9, 2007 11:37 AM | Report abuse

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