Burke calls offer 'act of desperation,' has harsh words for Lowe

LOS ANGELES -- Irate Anaheim Ducks general manager Brian Burke on Friday called Edmonton's offer sheet to forward Dustin Penner "gutless."

Burke had especially harsh words for Oilers GM Kevin Lowe, saying, "Edmonton has offered a mostly inflated salary for a player, and I think it's an act of desperation for a general manager who is fighting to keep his job."

The Oilers signed Penner to a five-year, $21.25 million offer sheet on Thursday. Burke said he wasn't upset that there was an offer sheet, but rather he was irked at the amount of money involved. Penner will go from earning a league-minimum $450,000 to $4.25 million a year.

"I have no problem with offer sheets," Burke said, noting they are part of the NHL's collective bargaining agreement.

"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," he said.

The way the deal went down also irritated Burke.

"I was not notified of this until I was contacted by Dustin Penner's agent," he said on a conference call from British Columbia. "I would have done this differently, but then again I wouldn't have done this. I think some guys would have done it that way, yes."

The Stanley Cup champion Ducks have until Thursday either to match the offer or to accept a first-round pick, a second-round pick and a third-round pick from Edmonton as compensation.

Burke would not say which way he was leaning. He plans to return to Anaheim on Sunday and meet with the team's owners.

He said talks with Penner, a restricted free agent, had not gone far. Asked if Anaheim's offer was anywhere close to Edmonton's offer sheet, Burke said, "The answer is a clear and unequivocal and instantaneous no."

It's the second time in three weeks that the Oilers have gone after a restricted free agent, trying but failing to get forward Thomas Vanek of the Buffalo Sabres on July 6. The Sabres matched Edmonton's $50 million, seven-year offer.

"Draw your own conclusions," Burke said.

The Ducks don't have much room under the salary cap. They are around $5 million below the $50.3 million maximum, although a team is allowed to be over the salary cap by 10 percent until Oct. 1.

The Ducks are still waiting on defenseman Scott Niedermayer and winger Teemu Selanne to decide whether they will retire or play next season.

Burke said he hadn't talked to either player recently.

"We've told them to take their time and when they've made a decision to let us know," he said.