Thomas Vanek was one of the hottest commodities at this spring’s trade deadline. The Montreal Canadiens were able to snag him from the New York Islanders for a conditional 2014 second-round pick and prospect Sebastian Collberg.
The Canadiens came away as the winners on that deal, but Vanek’s contract expires after this year, and Vanek has already stated he would like to test the free-agent market in July.
Seeing as how the Detroit Red Wings could use a pure goal scorer like Vanek to bolster their offense, he was at the top of my list of free agents the Red Wings should pursue.
However, after watching him play in this year’s playoffs — most notably in the current series with the New York Rangers — I’ve reconsidered: the Red Wings should not pursue Vanek.
Unlike another NHL player who is rumored to be heading to another destination, Vanek is a good player. He put up 68 points (27 goals, 41 assists) in 78 games with the Buffalo Sabres, Islanders and Canadiens.
However, as Too Many Men on the Site editor and social media manager Patrick Helper tweets, he doesn’t give 100 percent all the time:
— Patrick Helper (@Helper_Sports) May 23, 2014
During the Canadiens’ current series with the New York Rangers, Vanek has disappeared. He has one assist in Montreal’s lone win, and is a minus-three with four shots on goal. Four shots on goal in four games is not good enough for someone labeled as a pure goal scorer.
Of the five goals Vanek does have in these playoffs, none of them are exactly highlight-reel goals, according to CBC Sports. A couple of defections, tip-ins and an empty-net goal comprise of the scoring Vanek has done this postseason.
Not to mention he has been demoted to the third line with Rene Bourque and Danny Briere. Vanek is not a third-line winger, and the demotion seems to be having an effect on his play.
This lack of consistency reminds me of someone the Red Wings currently have locked up for the next six seasons in Johan Franzen. Franzen is one of the streakiest players I have ever seen play the game. When he’s hot, he’s hot. He scores, he makes plays and he abuses the opposing team with his big body. But when he’s off, he seems to have little to no interest in helping his team.
Do the Red Wings really need another player like that on their roster?
Another problem with Vanek is he will warrant a big contract. He’ll be one of the top free-agent prizes, and he could get something close to the $7 million per year his cap hit currently is at.
The Red Wings do not need to invest $7 million in a player who will only show up when he deems it necessary.
The offensive punch Vanek could provide seems tempting, but the Red Wings need a more consistent player who will not eat up a huge amount of salary cap.
Vanek is not the answer.