According to multiple reports, the Vancouver Canucks are taking a look at winger Thomas Vanek. But adding the 33-year-old veteran doesn’t make a lot of sense for multiple reasons.
Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning stayed away from signing any of the big names during this summer’s free agent period. Instead, he opted to go in the bargain shopping bin and found a handful of quality sames.
Benning added versatile veteran Sam Gagner, who can be a nice fill-in anywhere on the top three lines. He also added puck-moving defenceman Michael Del Zotto, backup goalie Anders Nilsson and depth players in centre Alexander Burmistrov and blueliner Patrick Wiercioch.
So for a team that was supposed to rebuild, that was already quite a a number of moves for Benning. But according to multiple reports, he could be looking at signing veteran sniper Thomas Vanek.
According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, the Canucks are apparently “taking a look” on Vanek. TSN 1040’s Matt Sekeres also dropped this line last week:
It’s been an up-and-down year for Vanek since he busted into the NHL during the 2005-06 season. A 10-time 20-goal scorer who has also hit 50 points in eight seasons, Vanek has been on the down slope for three years.
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The Minnesota Wild signed Vanek for three years back in 2014, but he had the final year of his contract bought out after just 41 points in 2015-16.
The Detroit Red Wings signed him to a one-year deal, and Vanek chipped in with 15 goals and 38 points in 48 games.
But Detroit shipped him to the Florida Panthers, where Vanek had just two goals and 10 points in 20 games. That slow finish is basically why Vanek hasn’t been signed as we near the start of preseason.
He may have a solid track record, but Vanek hasn’t been the 20-goal, 50-point man in two years.
Also throw in his age (33), and it’s unlikely Vanek ever regains his old first-line form.
But his decline in production isn’t the only reason Vancouver should stay away from signing the Austrian winger.
Set at left wing
The Canucks have solid depth at left wing, so just where on earth would they play Vanek? After a career year in 2016-17, Sven Baertschi figures to be on the top line with Bo Horvat. Veteran Daniel Sedin will likely be on the second or third line with brother Henrik. There’s another left wing spot unavailable.
Markus Granlund — who scored 19 goals last season, will also take up one of the top-three left wing spots. Given his surprisingly strong 2016-17 campaign, it wouldn’t be surprising if he played in the top-six.
So if the Canucks were to sign Vanek, his best bet would be to be on the fourth line. Hard to see him accepting that role, and he doesn’t make Vancouver any younger or faster in their transition to a rebuild.
At the end of the day, signing Thomas Vanek just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for the Canucks. He’s aging, past his playing prime and far too inconsistent for Benning to take a chance on.
Vancouver is set at the left wing position, and there’s already a solid mix of young players and veterans there. Vanek wasn’t able to light it up on superior Florida and Minnesota teams, so it’s tough to see him scoring much in Vancouver.
So even though the rumors suggest that the Canucks are looking at Thomas Vanek, they should kindly pass on the veteran and let him explore offers from other teams.
*Stats courtesy of Hockey Reference*