Good Afternoon Wilderness! I hope this finds you in good health. Today, I am going to talk briefly about former University of Minnesota Golden Gopher All-American forward Thomas Vanek.
Earlier this spring, it was thought that the former Gophers star would be heading to Minnesota via free agency. For Wild fans, it made perfect sense. Vanek played his college at the University of Minnesota. His wife is from here. Sounds like a match made in heaven, right?
Not so fast.
Based on how Vanek has played during the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs, It would appear that the former Gopher star’s stock is falling very fast. You would have to assume that his salary demands could be dropping, too.
As a result of his unimpressive play during the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Vanek will be lucky if the Wild still want to sign him during free agency signing period. Vanek has been shuffled around the Canadiens lineup and even made an appearance or two on the Habs fourth line. That has to give the Wild management some concern.
So far during the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Vanek has been almost invisible, and scored a meager (5g-4a—9pts). That’s hardly worthy of $7,000,000.00 per year contract.
Breaking it down further, against the New York Rangers, Vanek has scored (0g-1a—1pts) in four games and played an average of 12:17 minutes a game. Based on those minutes, Vanek is playing third line minutes. The Wild don’t need another third line player making $7 million per year. The Wild also have a lot of things to consider moving forward, and there are a lot of moving parts.
Reading this, it would appear that Vanek might not be wanted in Minnesota or Montreal.
Eric Duhatschek, Globe and Mail – When times were good in Montreal, there was some talk that the Canadiens might actually consider bidding for Vanek in free agency. Now, it seems highly unlikely, given what a negligible impact he's had on their run to the semi-finals. But will Minnesota welcome him now, after making inquiries at the deadline, but ultimately settling for Matt Moulson, because the acquisition cost and the dollars out were more affordable? Moulson wasn't a great fit in Minnesota and the New York Islanders would do well to try and kiss and make up, after dealing him for Vanek in the first place. Minnesota has the great good fortune of having Dany Heatley's $7-million cap hit disappear after this season, but committing that money to Vanek, a player of questionable playoff pedigree, seems ill-advised at this stage. The Wild seem to have a good thing going, with the group they've assembled now. Sitting out free agency this summer makes the most sense for them.
If Vanek still wants to come to Minnesota and play for the Wild, he’s going to have to command a lot smaller, more cap friendly contract. Based on the play of the "Kids" the Wild may no longer need Vanek as much as he needs them. It will be interesting to see what happens around the first week in July.
Let me be clear, I like Thomas Vanek, he was an amazing talent when he played in the WCHA with the Gophers. It was fun watching him dominate. However, with the emergence of the Wild’s younger players during the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Wild don’t need to break the bank on a player that's over 30 years old. The last thing any of us want to see, is another player past his prime making 5-7.5 million dollars per year.
Lastly, it would be neat to see Vanek in a Minnesota Wild uniform next season, "if" they can afford him.