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  • Thomas Vanek Deal A Home Run For Minnesota Wild


    I'm very shocked.

    Then Vanek disappeared in the playoffs for Montreal. What seemed like an injury was being widely perceived as a lack of effort on Vanek's part. Combined with his disappointing showing and seeming lack of leadership at the Olympics his stock seemed to take a pretty big hit.

    Turns out, no. From the moment he was allowed to talk about it, Chuck Fletcher was adamant about a short-term deal with Vanek and yesterday admitted to underbidding most players yesterday. It's surprising for anyone with the talent and options that Vanek had to agree to a 3 year, 19.5 million contract.

    This move is great for the Wild. They've let everyone know that they want to retain salary flexibility so they can maintain their young core in the future. A noble goal, but one that threatened to prevent them from getting the goal-scorer they needed to win now. And the Wild definitely needed a goal-scorer. They were 25th in the league for scoring goals, and ahead of only Buffalo in generating shot attempts at 5-on-5.

    He also has had an established linemate relationship with Jason Pominville, and they have demonstrated good chemistry with each other. In the three seasons 10-13 where they were regular linemates, Vanek had a 46.6 Corsi Forced Percentage without Pominville, and Pominville had a 49.1 CF% without Vanek. But when they were together, their numbers were 50.1%. On a bad Buffalo team, no less. Wild fans should be looking forward to seeing the two reunited again.

    Another exciting thing about Vanek signing in Minnesota is that it finally gives the Minnesota Wild three legitimate scoring lines. Look at what the Wild can throw on the ice in Game 1 next season:





    These lines look great. Vanek's line could be the top scoring option, with Pominville having fantastic chemistry with both Granlund and Vanek. The second line would be able to absorb tough minutes and score. That third line is brimming with speed, and could give opponents nightmares. And since they wisely kept Brodziak at the draft, the fourth line is basically the third line of last year's team. And last year's team was considered to be pretty deep.

    There are concerns with Vanek. There've been work ethic questions, and his skating isn't great, leading some Wild fans to be afraid of a Dany Heatley 2.0 situation. I'm not too concerned. The price on this three-year deal is right, and there isn't the downward trend in Vanek's numbers like there was with Heatley. A risk? Perhaps, but the rewards are great, and the Wild got the best goal-scorer on the market in on a club-friendly deal.

    With St. Louis, Nashville, Dallas, and even Chicago improving in Free Agency, this was simply a move the Wild had to make to continue to get better in the Central Division. The fact the Wild were able to do it on a club-friendly deal was stunning, and Fletcher should be applauded.

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