The Buffalo Sabres thought so much of winger Thomas Vanek that they were “willing to make him the highest-paid player in the NHL,” according to a report from The Buffalo News.
The News cites an anonymous source with that tidbit, then refers to Vanek’s comments today that suggest the 29-year-old, traded yesterday to the New York Islanders, wanted no part of staying in Buffalo while the Sabres were rebuilding.
“I enjoyed my time there, but I didn’t want to be a part of that,” Vanek told reporters. “We traded pretty much every veteran. The message was clear that they’re going for draft picks. I think our last game we played four teenagers. Good, young players, but young players take time.”
The NHL’s highest-paid player, based on cap hit, is Washington’s Alex Ovechkin ($9,538,462).
It seems hard to fathom the Sabres were prepared to give Vanek as much as Ovechkin is getting now. Then again, they’ve given players big money before, and the cap is expected to rise in the coming years. They certainly could have been thinking in the range that, say, winger Corey Perry (eight years, $8.625 million cap hit) got in Anaheim.
At any rate, it’s a moot point now. Vanek is with the Islanders today and skating with John Tavares.