Thomas Vanek has wanted to play in Minnesota ever since he could see the end of his 7-year deal on the horizon. He was a University of Minnesota guy. The Gopher wanted to burrow home.
The Minnesota Wild wanted him, too, but they didn’t want him at the contract terms Vanek was getting offered by teams like the New York Islanders: 7 years, $50 million. They had already committed term to players like Zach Parise, Ryan Suter and Mikko Koivu. And, frankly, they had some reservations about Vanek after a disastrous playoff run with the Montreal Canadiens, with five goals in 17 playoff games and just two points in his last seven playoff games.
They wanted to be sure he fit their system. They wanted to make sure he played the Wild way.
Hence, the two sides agreed to a 3-year, $19.5 million contract that will pay him $5.5 million, $6.5 million and then $7.5 million according to TSN. That’s a $6.5 million cap hit, essentially slotting Vanek in Dany Heatley’s cap space as he carried a $7.5 million hit last season.
“The term is fine with me. I’m confident in myself that I can help this team out and still produce for many years," Vanek said on TSN. "I’m super pumped that it worked out.”
The term is right for both sides. The money is what you'd expect for that term and down from his $7.1 million hit on the last contract, which was established by Kevin Lowe and his crazypants offer sheet.
Say what you will about his inconsistency, or his playoff performance last season, but Vanek is a dynamic offensive player who joins a collection of scorers that would have made trap-happy Jacques Lemaire faint if he knew what the franchise would look like by 2014.
He gives them a net-front presence, especially on the power play, and has the kind of game that can carry a team for weeks when he's hot. Best of all for the Wild: They have enough scorers on the roster to handle things when he's not.
Vanek has a reputation to mend. The Wild will afford him the chance – and, in turn, a chance to win in the Western Conference.