Vancouver Canucks Sign Thomas Vanek One Year too Late

VANCOUVER, BC - FEBRUARY 28: Ryan Miller /

Now that news regarding the Thomas Vanek deal with the Vancouver Canucks has settled, let’s get into some specifics. Has Vanek lost his scoring touch? Or can he help this team become what management seems to so heavily desire: competitive.

Vancouver Canucks fans were not surprised with the signing of the 33-year-old Austrian native. Trevor Linden himself admitted the Vancouver Canucks had interest in Vanek while joining Sekeres & Price on TSN 1040 a few weeks ago. But are fans happy?

For the most part, it seems like a split vote. There are legitimate arguments for both cases. For what it’s worth, even a recent poll question on Donnie & the Moj was close.

One Year to Late

Much like this summer, there wasn’t a whole lot of buzz around Vanek on the free agent market in 2016. That’s when the Vancouver Canucks should have signed Vanek to a short term deal; thus not having to lock-up Louis Eriksson long-term.

On July first, 2016 the Detroit Red Wings signed Vanek to a one-year $2.6 million contract. It was known around the hockey world that Vanek no longer scores 30 to 40 goals. But, he is still a serviceable player who can provide some offense.

In Detroit, Vanek lived up to his contract by becoming an asset with value come trade deadline. He scored 15 goals and 38 points in 48 games dressed in red. Detroit flipped Vanek for a third-round-pick and depth defensemen Dylan McIlrath; a move the Vancouver Canucks must be hoping to accomplish with any of their veterans this season.

Overall, Vanek was a great signing for Detroit in 2016. Which begs the question for Pacific North-West folks: would it have been better for the Vancouver Canucks to throw a few chips in on Vanek instead of going all-in on Eriksson?

More Bang for Your Buck

Look, Eriksson has time to re-paint his image with the Vancouver Canucks –arguably too much time. He will provide offense moving forward. Having said that, Canucks management already wasted $7M based on what little Eriksson brought in 2016-17.

If the Vancouver Canucks would have perused Vanek instead last year, they could have saved millions of dollars and avoided negative PR that emerged after Eriksson signed. Vancouver could have realistically signed Vanek to a two-year $5M contract, making it a praise worthy deal!

Jim Benning said last year he wanted the Vancouver Canucks to make the playoffs and that Eriksson was brought in to help that occur. But, Vanek could have done that… on a way less-binding deal.

More from The Canuck Way

Would Vanek have scored as many points as he did in Detroit with the Vancouver Canucks in 2016-2017? Probably not – although his performance this year may trump that statement. However, surely Vanek would have put up more than 24 points; furthermore, adding intangibles to the team that Eriksson could not offer.

Also, a two-year contract would have fit the blueprint of this unique Vancouver Canucks re-build –a so-called youth movement insulated by veteran depth players.

Vanek is a former all-star and elite scorer. In a short stint on a young team, perhaps he inspires young players by means of his character alone. Being surrounded by respectable veteran players can help a youth’s development.

In a single season with the Vancouver Canucks, it is doubtful Vanek’s presence will make much of a difference though. On-ice-chemistry does not always translate into relational chemistry in the locker room.

Yet, anything can happen in hockey.

Wrapping Up the Rant

So, signing Vanek last year would have filled the Vancouver Canucks needs that included: secondary scoring, a veteran presence, forward depth, and a manageable salary. The decision to sign Eriksson instead – though understandable based on his attributes and history with the Sedins and Benning – was a mistake.

Thus, with both Vanek and Eriksson now on the roster, the signing is a year too late.

Comparing Both Wingers

Vanek and Eriksson are very different hockey players. Both defensively sound wingers, but made a niche scoring in different ways.

Eriksson was never a super fast player. He has great hockey sense, is a solid fore-checker, and excels at taking advantage of the dirty areas in order to put the puck in the net. Vanek on the other hand, was always quicker, more skilled, and excels at firing shots from the slot and scores while rushing open lanes.

Related Story: Vancouver Canucks Analysis Signing Thomas Vanek

Both players provided different roles on their respected power-play units throughout their careers as well. Vanek is the trigger man of the cycle, and Eriksson contributes to the cycle on the half wall or in front of the net.

Perhaps on separate units of the Vancouver Canucks power-play, they can rekindle some of their fire. Being on separate units is key, as they are both slowing down, do not have shots like they used to, and the franchise needs to spread the offense.

No Room for Rookies

The biggest concern regarding the Vanek signing is that, although the Vancouver Canucks have depth for when they get trampled by injuries again, he is taking a young or deserving player’s roster spot.

Our own David Joun is more optimistic than most. Yet, he even agrees that the organization is remaining static instead of taking a step forward in their development as a franchise.

So, though Vanek is a respectable NHL veteran, this signing overall makes little sense based on how the Vancouver Canucks roster stands.

Next: Vancouver Canucks 2017-18 season preview: Los Angeles Kings Edition

It will be interesting to see how training camp and the season unfolds with players like Reid Boucher, Nikolay Goldobin, Anton Rodin, Griffen Molino, Brock Boeser, and Zack Mcewan all competing for one or two spots. And also who will take advantage of the opportunity when called up if injuries strike the Vancouver Canucks again.