So Kevin Lowe and Darcy Regier have hijacked this off-season and seem to be playing a classic game of oneupmanship, except they are trying to show up each other's complete incompetence.

Apparently Lowe offered a 7-year $50M contract to Thomas Vanek of the Buffalo Sabres. While that number is only slightly absurd (he's an excellent young unproven player). The really bizarre (and by bizarre I mean completely utterly insane) part is that since Vanek is a restricted Free Agent the Oilers would have had to deal Buffalo 4 first round draft picks as well as pay Vanek an average of $7.14M for the next seven years. Considering Edmonton is likely to suck big time for the next 4 years this would pretty much set Buffalo up for the next decade or so, meaning in about 5 years they would start to resemble the new Penguins.

Luckily, for the Oilers, Buffalo GM Darcy Regier completely bailed Lowe out and matched the offer, meaning he turned down 4 first round draft picks from a crappy team to pay one player, and here's the key point, more than he offered either of his co-captains. The good news for Oilers fans is that Regier saved the Oilers from giving away 4 first round draft choices, the bad news is.. Kevin Lowe is probably going to be doing the drafting.

From here on out any "The big market teams are outspending us again WAAAAHHHH" talk just has to stop. Both these markets, the poster children for small-market disadvantaged franchises, were willing to give up both more money AND 4 first round draft picks than they were willing to offer their former captains.

So if we're keeping score, Edmonton has:
* Could have locked up Ryan Smyth for as low as $5.25M/year (give or take $100k).
* Bad-mouthed him on his way out of town
* Cried about being small-market
* loses out on almost every decent free agent blaming, among other things, Edmonton's location.
* Misses out on Nylander because the agent pulled the ol' "yeah he'll sign the papers in the morning" trick.
* Then offered a $50M/7-year contract, and 4 draft choices for a very nice young player.

And Buffalo:
* Could have locked up Drury for $21.5M/4-year, but forgot to send him the contract
* Didn't negotiate with either Co-Captain much before free agency
* Cried about being small-market saying (Paraphrased from NHL Fanhouse:) " Regier said the other day that he and other GM's were being punished by this system for drafting and developing good talent"
* Matched a contract offer that was well over what it would have cost to sign Drury during the season (less per year than what the Ranger's signed Drury for BTM), PLUS 4 first round draft picks from a team likely to be in the basement.

I'm getting tired of every time a "small-market" team loses a player to free agency they whine about being small market. Both these franchises obviously had the money necessary to sign a player, but for whatever reason chose not to. But lets stop the "It's cause we're small market excuse" and start telling the truth. "We don't think his performance over the next few years will be worth that kind of money. We would prefer to invest it elsewhere." Maybe the reason these two clubs can't sign Free Agents is because of good ol' fashioned Incompetence.