Vanek! At The Disco

There's a bit of what seems like a perfect storm brewing involving Thomas Vanek and The Minnesota Wild (hell, start typing "Thomas Vanek" into google and "Thomas Vanek Minnesota Wild" is the third choice in the auto-fill.) Once Jason Pominville was acquired from Buffalo at the trade deadline, the implication was that Minnesota, who will clear a healthy chunk of cap space after the 2013-14 season, would be positioning themselves to be a suitor for Vanek, who is now entering the last year of his contract.

Pominville, so they say, is one of Vanek's close friends. Buffalo is in the midst of a complete rebuild. Vanek also lives here, and married a Minnesota girl; he is, after all, a former Golden Gopher. He runs camps here in the Summers. So once you do the math, it makes sense.

My question is...why?
Now, I'm not saying we don't need him; he is a proven NHL scorer and historically Minnesota has lacked in that department. He's touched 40 goals twice (and was on pace for that this last season), averages roughly 3-4 shots on goal per game (Buffalo, which was awful, was still almost 5 shots better when Vanek was on the ice, playing tough minutes), and has been pretty durable over the course of his career. He'll be 30 in January, so he's nearing the end of his prime; but he will still remain a viable scoring option as long as he can stay healthy.

There will inevitably be an extension for Jason Pominville as you just don't give up that many assets for an 18 month rental; so when he gets locked up, we are looking at Pominville, Mikko Koivu, and Zach Parise as long-term (I use this term because of their contract status) pieces of the Top-6 puzzle. Vanek would be a fourth, and for a nominal fee- so wouldn't the addition of Vanek fly right into the face of the build-within, cheap in-house competition philosophy that this regime has adopted?

Granted there will still be in-house competition- Charlie Coyle, Jason Zucker, Mikael Granlund, and Nino Neiderreiter all have NHL experience- but won't this team essentially become hamstrung with one-way contracts and guaranteed money when there would be cheaper options available roughly 250 miles south of St. Paul? For me it comes down to where Chuck Fletcher has stumbled often, making a rash move in the name of instant improvement- but would a signing like this, with the years and monetary figure attached, make sense when you're looking at a player who is on the decline?

There are ways to do both; Peter Chiarelli in Boston is making a cottage industry of trading young players in their pre-prime years for serious bounties, so there's no reason why a guy like Granlund or Coyle couldn't be had for the right price. But I worry about keeping the team young at the right spots; Koivu, Parise, Pominvile, and Vanek won't be getting any younger and presumably not producing like they once were. So wouldn't we want to keep an influx of youth at some of those spots in order to keep a decent amount of turnover and cost efficiency?

I see the lure of signing Thomas Vanek come next Summer; but it may not be something you do just for the sake of doing it.


  1. I would look at signing Vanek if the high impact kids are not developing or producing like the managements believes they should. Fletcher and staff have a full season this year to make that assessment. Trade them for high draft picks and then sign Vanek. But don't sign Vanek just because he's available and "one of us".

  2. Sorry, none of those guys are probably going to be as good as Vanek is even now.

  3. A lot can happen in the next year. It sounds like Buffalo is listening to offers for all their guys. If Vanek gets shipped out and likes where he ends up, he might just re-sign there.

    Additionally, does the cap go up? Does Pominville re-sign? What if El Nino has a breakout year? (he's an RFA after this season)

    Lots of variables, but if it all works out and he wants to play here at a reasonable cap hit and term, then I'm all for it.

    P.S. I like the title.

  4. Agreed - You have a proven player that will still be a great player for another 4-5 years. I don't see why you would ever pass up Vanek. Think of it this way, for the next few years you have 2 Spots on the 1st two lines for our young guys (Nino, Granlund, Coyle, and Zucker) and 2 spots on the 3rd line that could be picked up by those guys. After Brodziak's contract is up I could see our lines looking like this:

    Parise - Koivu - Zucker
    Vanek - Granlund - Pominville
    Cooke - Coyle - Nino (Love this 3rd line with hard skaters and big bodies)

  5. If I had a choice between Vanek and Pom , I am sorry but I take Vanek 10 out of 10 times..Pom gets traded or goes UFA. The error in the authors conclusion is that Pom needs to be resigned.

  6. Coyle is our top prospect and one of the tops in the league. There is no way we put him in the third line and give him minimal minutes.