The Vancouver Canucks have signed forward Thomas Vanek to a one-year contract worth $2 million.
The 33-year-old has a dozen years of NHL experience under his belt and has become somewhat of a journeyman as of late.
Vanek spent last season with the Florida Panthers and Detroit Red Wings, scoring 48 points in 68 games.
The Austrian was one of the biggest names still available via free agency and the Canucks had been courting him for a while.
“Thomas has been a prolific scorer throughout his career and we’re excited to add his offence and experience to help with the continued growth of our forwards,” Canucks general manager Jim Benning said. “His skill and ability to contribute on the scoresheet, combined with his lead-by-example style will help our team this year, and will benefit our younger players as they continue to develop their game.”
At 6’2, 214 pounds, Vanek is a big player at the forward position. He uses his size to get the job done in front of the net and can create offensive chances with a selection of shot-tips. He also has sublime hands, which can set him up in a sniper capacity.
Of course, his age is a factor and the Canucks are supposedly in the midst of a never-ending rebuild. That makes Vanek a curious choice, but this is a club in need of goals and he should deliver on that end. The franchise set a record for fewest goals last season and won’t win many games without reversing the downward spiral.
That said, the last time Vanek put in 20 goals was three years ago in Minnesota.
Nothing about this deal indicates that he’s intended to provide a permanent fix to Vancouver’s problems, though, and that tilts the balance back in favour of the contract. It’s minimal risk and Vanek could be a bright spot on a team in need of them.
His experience could rub off on the likes of Bo Horvat, too. And while it could be argued his presence could wipe out a roster spot for a young gun, the big guy has a lot to offer in the locker room.
Vanek isn’t the best skater in the world and would therefore struggle with the Sedin twins, but he could play a role as supplementary offence. Look for him to pop in as a second or third line guy, especially as the Canucks forge new business up front.
Is this a great deal? I’m not so sure. There are plenty of cons to signing a dude like Vanek, but he could provide some intangibles as well. And goals. He could score some goals. Whether or not 17-ish goals are worth the risk and time of a one-year sting is up for some debate.