Wild Signs Vanek To Three-Year Deal
On the opening day of NHL Free Agency, the Minnesota Wild inked one of the most coveted goal scorers on the open market. The Wild has signed left wing Thomas Vanek to a three-year contract.
Vanek is the NHL’s eighth-leading goal scorer since 2005-06. In nine seasons, the winger has amassed 277 goals and 279 assists. He’s also third in the League during that span in power play goals (113).
“Thomas is an elite offensive talent who showed a strong desire to play in Minnesota,” Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher said. “We are excited to welcome him to our organization.”
The forward was traded twice last season, first from Buffalo to the New York Islanders for, coincidentally, forward Matt Moulson (who the Wild acquired on Trade Deadline Day), a first-round pick in 2014 and a second-round pick in 2015. He was moved again, to the Montreal Canadiens, at the Trade Deadline for forward prospect Sebastian Collberg and a conditional second-round pick in the 2014 NHL Draft. In 78 games last year, he collected 68 points (27-41=68).
The Vienna, Austria native was a college standout with the University of Minnesota. In two seasons with the Golden Gophers, Vanek totaled 113 points (57-56=113) in 83 games (2002-04), helping the Golden Gophers claim the 2003 NCAA National Championship while being named tournament MVP.
The winger lives in the State of Hockey during the offseason. Staying in Minnesota was a selling point, but along with his comfort with the area, he’s excited to join a team that is on the rise.
“It doesn't get much better for me right now; in the end, we made it work,” Vanek told Sportsnet. “What's more exciting is how good the team is...It's a team that is very deep, and I know I can add to that.”
The 6-foot-2, 217-pound wing was selected fifth overall by Buffalo in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, becoming the highest Austrian-born player ever drafted in the NHL, before garnering NHL Second All-Star Team honors in 2006-07 and being named an NHL All-Star in 2009. He spent the majority of his career with Buffalo (2005-14), ranking fourth in Sabres history in power-play goals scored (106) and game-winning goals (41), fifth in goals (254), 10th in points (497) and 15th in games played (598).
Vanek joins former Sabres linemate, Jason Pominville. Speaking to the Star Tribune, Pominville had this scouting report on Vanek:
“He’s always a threat when he has the puck, and when he doesn’t have the puck, he always finds ways to get himself available. He would step in and help our power play right away. As a net-front presence, he’s always there with screens and always finds a way to get his stick on the puck.
“He’s so good at tipping pucks, it’s crazy.”