We’ve heard it all summer, but Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press reports that the Red Wings are still in contact with Thomas Vanek about a potential return. Vanek’s agent Steve Bartlett told St. James that the team remains in the “possibility range” though other teams have increased interest recently. The team will likely have to make a roster move of some sort to get under the salary cap if Andreas Athanasiou does eventually sign—something that many of our readers doubt at this point—and would need to work even harder to fit Vanek in.
Vanek remains one of the more inexplicable free agent cases this summer, still without a job despite scoring 48 points in 68 games last season. His defense and lack of foot speed is clearly a sticking point, but many teams could use his offensive punch in various situations. The fact that he remains one of the better shootout specialists in the league is just a bonus, but one that can be worth real points in the standings.
If Vanek did return to Detroit, you’d have to expect he would be a trade candidate at the deadline again. With the Red Wings unlikely to really compete for a Stanley Cup, Vanek could net them another draft pick this year. As we’ve discussed previously, Vanek has no Olympic motivation since Austria did not qualify for the tournament last summer.