The results of yesterday’s poll, “Will Jaromir Jagr or Thomas Vanek Play in the NHL This Year?“, have been an overwhelming “yes”. So far, more than 71% of voters think both will play, while the next highest scoring option was that Vanek will play, with close to 14%. While the idea of Jagr’s NHL career being over seems impossible to many, it has been relatively quiet for the future Hall of Famer this off-season, with the only recent news being whispers of interest coming out of Calgary. Vanek, on the other hand, has reportedly seen an uptick in interest of late and has ties to many teams across the league. So, the question then becomes, assuming Vanek plays in the NHL this year, where will he end up?
The most recent rumors have connected Vanek with the Vancouver Canucks. A team that seems unsure of its direction, the Canucks have added several veteran pieces this off-season, like Sam Gagner and Michael Del Zotto, and seem determined to make a playoff push with the soon-to-be 37-year-old Sedins set to hit free agency next summer. Loui Eriksson did not work out on the top line with Henrik and Daniel last year, and trying Vanek out could make some sense. On the other hand, Vancouver has some young talent that could use a shot and, even with Vanek, the team stands little chance of reaching the postseason. The Canucks should be in full rebuild mode, but until management realizes that, adding a veteran like Vanek is a real possibility.
The other team who has long been rumored to be in contact with Vanek are the Detroit Red Wings. Another team that probably shouldn’t be adding veterans, the Red Wings also simply may not have the capacity to sign the veteran scorer, given their current cap overage and unfinished business with Andreas Athanasiou. Nevertheless, the rumors have hung around, as Vanek did seem to fit in nicely in Detroit last season. A return could be best for him, but it wouldn’t be the most logical decision for the team.
The Boston Bruins seem intent on giving their young players the opportunity to make the team this year. However, the team also kept in touch with free agent Drew Stafford this summer and seemed likely to offer him a contract or tryout deal once they had the David Pastrnak negotiations wrapped up. Pastrnak remains unsigned, but now Stafford is off the market, signing in New Jersey. The Bruins could now turn their attention to Vanek, who has historically been a thorn in the team’s side, to provide some depth and insurance on the wings if the prospects aren’t ready for regular roles just yet.
Then there’s the Arizona Coyotes, who are in desperate need of a right-shot winger, and could use some more veteran leadership up front as well. Yes, the ’Yotes are still rebuilding, but they need to take the next step sooner or later. Vanek would bring a scoring boost and most of all some balance to the lineup and, with a league-high $19.3MM in cap space remaining, Arizona can certainly take a chance and pay Vanek what he’s asking. The fit makes sense, but does Vanek want to go to the desert? Will he have any other choice?
Finally, the San Jose Sharks lost Patrick Marleau this summer and his 46 points from last season and have only added Brandon Bollig and his zero points from last season to make up for it. That speaks for itself. Vanek would immediately be the Sharks’ biggest off-season acquisition and a great candidate to step in and replace Marleau in the top six.
So, what do you think? The response has been near total agreement that Vanek is staying in the NHL, but where exactly will he play?