The Vancouver Canucks are in the mix to sign free agent forward Thomas Vanek, according to a report from News 1130’s Rick Dhaliwal.
Just talked with Thomas Vanek agent Stephen Bartlett who says he is still talking to a few teams including the #Canucks
— Rick Dhaliwal (@DhaliwalSports) August 29, 2017
With about two weeks to go before NHL training camps open, Vanek might be getting nervous. The 33-year-old unrestricted free agent is still without a team, and likely could be had for a bargain price on a short term deal.
Trevor Linden confirmed interest in Vanek last week in an interview with Matt Sekeres and Blake Price on TSN 1040.
Linden when asked if you're done with Free Agency, "I wouldn't say that." Confirmed they looked at Vanek. Listen now on @TSN1040.
— Ryan Henderson (@RJHenderson7) August 25, 2017
There’s a connection between Vanek and Canucks GM Jim Benning, who was the Sabres’ director of amateur scouting when Buffalo drafted him fifth overall in 2003.
Vanek is an intriguing player. He’s scored 333 goals in 885 career NHL games. He notched more than 30 goals four times in his career, surpassing 40 goals twice, all with the Sabres.
He last hit the 30-goal plateau six years ago though, and failed to get to 20 goals the past two seasons. He has bounced around quite a bit since leaving Buffalo, playing for the Islanders, Canadiens, Wild, Red Wings, and Panthers.
The 6-foot-2 Austrian right winger put up decent numbers last year, scoring 48 points (17-31-48) in 68 games split between Detroit and Florida. Those numbers would have placed him third in scoring on the Canucks last season, just four behind Bo Horvat for the team lead, in fewer games.
Vanek scored 13 points on the power play, which was more than anyone in blue and green not named Sedin had last season.
If the veteran still has gas left in the tank, he could help the Canucks. Vanek is a goal scorer, of which Vancouver has few. The Canucks finished second last in goals for in 2016-17, and second last on the power play.
Vanek, who is a right-shot, could fit in nicely on the man advantage as a trigger man for one-timers.
The downside to Vanek is his age. He’s not in Vancouver’s long term plans and would take a spot that a younger player could fill.
But if the Canucks’ young players need more seasoning in Utica, perhaps Vanek could be a useful stopgap player. If he signs a one-year deal, he could be parlayed into a draft pick at the trade deadline.
That’s exactly what the Detroit Red Wings did last year, signing Vanek as a free agent on July 1 and dealing him to Florida at the deadline in exchange for a third round pick.