Signing Thomas Vanek is of interest here in the Wilderness, what with our article about it, and then it even being (half)-jokingly mentioned in the national blogosphere. Vanek, he's so hot right now!
And why wouldn't Wild fans be going bonkers over this possibility. Vanek would come in and be a guy who scores goals more easily than anyone on this team, the kind of goal-scoring the Wild have yet to field since Marian Gaborik.
But would this really be the smartest move for the Minnesota Wild?
In the short term? Absolutely. If you swapped out Heatley and Vanek on this team right now, the only thing that could stop the Wild from becoming legitimate Cup Contenders is the youth movement coming to a complete stop, and the defense not shoring up. The Wild could have two fantastic lines with a Top-six including Vanek, Parise, Koivu, and Pominville. Throw in two of Nino/Granlund/Coyle/Zucker, and you're good to go. And if all four of those guys are ready for NHL success, throw two of the young guys with Brodziak. A lot of fun options to play with.
The long term is where things get iffy. Almost everyone talking about Vanek coming assumes the Wild will re-sign Pominville. Makes sense- if you're going to load up, don't take a step back. So let's assume they re-sign Pominville, and bring in Vanek in free agency next year. Let's say that Fletcher manages to get them to come without an increase in pay, even.
That's a touch less than 33.5 million hitting next year's cap. And the year after that. And probably the year after that. And probably the year after that. Even at a 70 million dollar cap, which will most likely come in the next few years, if not even next, you're looking at about 48% of your cap hit being tied up in 5 players. What will that cost you? I don't think it'll cost Brodin (but you'd better have him extended before he can get an offer sheet). But maybe it costs one or more of Granlund, Nino, Coyle, Zucker, or Kuemper? Sure, not all of those guys are likely to turn out to be the guys they can be, but tying so much of your cap space in 5 guys is going to limit your options when it comes to re-signing young players.
Five players, mind you, that aren't going to be getting any younger. On Opening Day for the 2014-15 season, Suter will be 29, Parise and Vanek will be 30, and Koivu and Pominville will be 31. With 33.5 million tied up in them, that's your core, and they're all 30, and they'll all likely be signed to at least through the 17-18 season. With your ability to retain younger players hampered, it appears that a Vanek signing may be reducing the window the Wild has to win a Cup.
Maybe it works out. Maybe those five players will stay healthy. Maybe the cap goes up to 75 million, and the Wild re-sign every young player they wish to retain. Maybe we won't care, because the Wild will have a Stanley Cup or two on their mantle. It could work out.
It could also be a nightmare.