If some of the dollar figures being thrown around for NHL talent this off-season seem more than a little exorbitant, Brian Burke has a suggestion.
Blame Kevin Lowe.
After signing forward Corey Perry to a five-year $26.63-million US extension, the Anaheim Ducks general manager rehashed his year-long feud with Lowe in an interview with the Los Angeles Times — claiming that a pair of offer sheets doled out by the Edmonton GM last summer set the tone for the madness of this year's market.
"They're all being re-signed at inflated prices," Burke told the Times. "Everything I said a year ago has come true. Every single word.
"Most [general] managers don't like starting fights with any other managers … Thanks to the Edmonton Oilers, the second contract [for players] has disappeared.
"You go right now from entry-level to what used to be the third contract, thanks to two offer sheets from Kevin Lowe."
Last July, Edmonton made waves by signing Buffalo restricted free agent forward Thomas Vanek to a seven-year, $50-million offer sheet, which the Sabres matched. Just weeks later, the Oilers signed Ducks forward Dustin Penner to a five-year, $21.25-million offer sheet, which drew Burke's ire based on the potential inflationary ripple effects the offer could have across the NHL.
"I have no problem with offer sheets," Burke said last July. "If you can identify a player and pay him appropriately and make him an offer, that's fine. At some point, the deals you make, the offers you extend, whether the team matches it or not, impacts all 30 teams, including your own."
Burke eventually decided to not match the Oilers' offer for Penner and accepted three draft picks as compensation.
"We're going to take three draft picks back and, given Kevin's recent performance, I expect them to be excellent picks," Burke said.