The free agency buzz in Buffalo is off the charts thanks to the Bills' courtship of Mario Williams, the prize defensive player on the NFL market. Fans are grasping at every bit of news and juicy rumor hoping to get confirmation Williams is in Buffalo to stay.
It got me thinking of the last time free agency gripped the region. The summer of 2007 came immediately to mind. The Sabres had two stars (Chris Drury and Daniel Briere) and a star-to-be (Thomas Vanek) headed toward the market.
As fans no doubt recall, the Sabres elected not to keep Briere and Drury. Their departures forced Buffalo to match Edmonton's seven-year, $50 million offer sheet to Vanek.
What if they didn't need to keep Vanek? Well, they would have gotten four first-round picks from the Oilers.
In 2008, that would have meant Buffalo owned the 12th (which originally belonged to Edmonton) and 13th picks in the draft. The Sabres moved up from 13th to 12th (and gave up a third-rounder in the process) to select Tyler Myers. Defenseman Colton Teubert went 13th to Los Angeles, but with Myers already on board the Sabres could have picked a forward.
The Oilers selected Jordan Eberle with the 22nd pick, so that would have worked out OK. He has 48 goals and 108 points in 134 games.
Now, with Vanek in Edmonton, there's no telling if the Oilers would have been as bad a team as they've been. But, just to make this easy, here's who else the Sabres would have gotten with Edmonton's picks the next three years:
2009: Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson (17 goals, 42 points, 121 games)
2010: Taylor Hall (48 goals, 94 points, 124 games)
2011: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (15 goals, 41 points, 49 games)
Think the Oilers would trade those four for Vanek today? Me neither.
The only message to take from all that: Hey, Bills, don't screw up this free agency season.