Born: January 19, 1984
Birthplace: Vienna, Austria
Acquired: Signed a three year contract on July 1, 2014
After a year of speculation and to the surprise of no one, Thomas Vanek turned down more lucrative offers and signed a three year deal on Tuesday with Minnesota.
In his nine year NHL career, Vanek spent eight (and change) of those seasons with the Buffalo Sabres. He was traded twice this past season, spending time with the New York Islanders and Montreal Canadiens. Vanek has been one of the more prolific goal scorers in the league in the past decade, scoring 277 goals during that time.
Back in the day, Vanek was a bit more speedy and could use that as a game changer. But at the age of 30, Vanek has lost a bit in the feet but still more than makes up for it with his hands. He is a master of tipping the puck out front of the net and can still fire off a good snap shot.
Last season, Vanek scored a total of 27 goals and 41 assists. While the goals total is not anywhere near his career high, Vanek proved to still be one of the top even strength scorers in the NHL last season. The Wild badly need a guy who can add more goals and Vanek should be that guy for the duration of his contract.
To start next year Vanek is slated to open up on a line with Mikko Koivu and Charlie Coyle. Take that line, add the Zach Parise/Mikael Granlund/Jason Pominville line, and Minnesota has a pretty formidable top six. Something they had really not had in the history of the franchise.
Thomas Vanek turned down bigger offers to take his three year deal in Minnesota. He wants to win, and believes this is the team that can help him get to the top. If anyone has questions about his effort (example: 2014 postseason), it is likely there won't be any when he hits the ice with Minnesota this fall.
Oh and by the way, did you know Vanek was a former Gopher?
Welcome to the Team of 18,001 Thomas Vanek!
Follow Giles on Twitter @gilesferrell