First of all, if you missed Ger's fantastic numbers-based piece yesterday, you should check it out. Now.
Also, I'm sure there have been articles written about the possibility of the Wild signing Thomas Vanek, but this thing just irritates me too much.
Now, about this hockey club. The Wild have created a somewhat positive culture around the team during the last two years. Most of the "analytical opinions" thrown around when talking about the Wild revolve around the amount of potential this team has. And potential is what this team has. It's not a team that's one player away from being a contender, even if that's what seems to be the the general idea among some fans.
And let's get this straight, most of you think that. Even if you won't admit it. The simplest of questions everyone needs to ask themselves when determining your stance on this subject is this; Would you want the Wild to sign Thomas Vanek?
As easy as that. If you even thought about nodding to that question, you are an incurable optimist who probably also dreams of riding a unicorn one day.
But hey, wouldn't the Wild want a proven scorer added to their already decent group of forwards? They'd be unstoppable on the powerplay at least, right? I mean, the Wild would be basically just swapping Dany Heatley to Vanek and THAT, my friends, is a bargain if there ever was one.
"But see, here's the thing..."
Vanek is 30, the best of years of his career are behind him, and he doesn't make a line "go" by himself. The Wild would need to overpay him, and Vanek is looking for a looooong contract, and that's what he's going to get. And hey, if the Wild want to shoot themselves in the knee, they should, like, TOTALLY, sign Vanek to an expensive long-term contract.
I know the Wild have the cap space to sign him, and would probably have no real problems with that contract in the first two years of that said contract. But as the NHL is turning more and more in to a league where only the actual elite-level guys "deserve" to get paid the big bucks, and after that it's a matter of who gets most out of their core without overpaying guys like, well, Thomas Vanek. A 34-year-old Vanek with a 5+ million cap hit on the second line wing would the worst thing that could come out of this.
A contract like that doesn't hurt the Wild in the beginning of it, not one bit. But seeing as Mikael Granlund and Jonas Brodin are major candidates for lengthy extensions (both are RFA's after next season) and the defensive core still isn't at the level it needs to be in order to really go and battle against the best teams in the play-offs, signing Vanek would be a big mistake.
A declining sniper isn't what the Wild need if they want to be a good team in 3-5 years. If they want to gamble with this thing with short-term success in their sights when the odds are clearly stacked against them, they sign Vanek and hope they make it past the second round in the post-season in the next 2-3 years. Because after that, they've pretty much handcuffed themselves in serious problems by having 5 players take away approximately 31 millions of cap space. And then you've got the extensions to Granlund and Brodin, and Jared Spurgeon's going to get more than 2,6 million once he becomes an RFA after 2015-16.
The only "smart" move here is to try and trade for the man, make some noise in the post-season with him on the roster and then let him walk to somewhere where he will be hilariously overpaid. Which players can the Wild realistically trade? Read Ger's piece I linked at the beginning of this post. Then there's draft picks, but there's no scenario in which I could accept a 1st rounder being traded for Vanek.
So, don't sign Vanek. Don't even think about it. I know the salary cap will go up, but that's still not a smart hockey decision. It just isn't. It might be fun for a while, but when you take in consideration the long-term future of this team...just don't.