Nashville Predators Free Agent Outlook: Thomas Vanek

Minnesota Wild forward Thomas Vanek (26). Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
Minnesota Wild forward Thomas Vanek (26). Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports /

The Nashville Predators are looking at bringing in a player or two to finish up their team.

As discussed multiple times since the end of our season against The San José Sharks, The Nashville Predators head into Free Agency looking for that missing piece to the Stanley Cup puzzle. The newest piece of news to our free agency search will be the Expansion Draft to Las Vegas. With The Predators losing one player, along with one player for every team, to Vegas it will put David Poile into a little predicament.

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Poile will need to look at free agents as possible rentals with the chance of losing them to Vegas or having them for only a year instead of adding a piece that could be a long term player. Which now changes our attention to Thomas Vanek. Vanek is a 32-year-old left wing who was a recent Minnesota Wild forward before getting bought out. This could be a viable option for the Preds if they want a possible rental player who can still add a lot of offense to a team.

What does he bring to Nashville?

Thomas Vanek has been an offensive force for the majority of his career. With 8 full seasons with The Buffalo Sabres Vanek had a couple 40 goal and 30 goal seasons, a few 20 goal seasons, and had a few solid 50 and 60 point seasons. Then came the 2013-2014 season which was, I’m sure, quite the trip for Vanek and his family. Vanek went from Buffalo to the New York Islanders, and then to the Montreal Canadiens.

Three teams in one year and Vanek was able to tally 27 goals, 41 assists, and 68 points all in 78 games. He spent most of that season with the Islanders but it is interesting to see how he was still able to  pull out a solid year for three teams like he did.

Here is his Hero Chart showing that for the past year, his linemates actually played better without him.  Was that a system thing or is he declining.  It also shows that he is a borderline First Line player that you may be able to get a little cheaper:

Vanek’s regular season stats in Minnesota 2015-2016:

74 games, 18 goals, 23 assists, 41 points, minus -10 player rating,  6 power play goals, 14 power play points, and 146 shots on net.

His overall career Vanek has had only one season where he didn’t score 20 goals or more and that was this last season in Minnesota where he had 18 goals. Finishing his 11th season and just now having a season without 20 goals, and just being two goals shy mind you, is impressive. Vanek also adds to the powerplay which is something I think the Preds desperately need.

Our powerplay isn’t that dangerous, to be honest and it showed that in the playoffs against The Ducks and The Sharks. Vanek adds just another option to make our powerplay just that more

Nashville Predators
Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports /

effective. Obviously, you have a solid group with Johansen, Neal, Forsberg, and Smith when it comes to the forwards and having an even stronger group with our defensive core when ever they’re out there on the PP, but you gotta keep penalty killers on their toes and adding another option can help.

What will he cost?

The last time Thomas Vanek was a free agent he got a lot of calls and got some big contract offers, but he ultimately chose to come home and play for The Wild. Now he comes to free agency with a chance for some calls but he won’t be making the same money. Last season Vanek was making about 6.5 million dollars, and that’s a big part of why the Wild bought him out. The Wild didn’t believe he was worth that much money and felt it was time to move on.

I think Vanek will last a few days longer than most before signing a deal. I’m sure he’ll weigh out his options and will hope for a bigger contract. But he’ll need to be honest with himself and realize that he’ll probably be looking at a 2-4 million dollar deal for a year or a 4-6 million dollar deal split for two seasons. He’s already 32 and possibly heading for a decline in production so I can’t see a team paying out a lot of money for him or giving a multi-year deal.

Will he be a good fit/ Should the Preds go get him?

I think it’s possible Vanek could slide into this roster and have a good, and hopefully cheap, impact on this roster. The Nashville Predators really need a good Top Six Line Forward to either join Joey and Neal or to let Forsberg jump up and then slid into his place with Smith and Ribeiro. I’m not sure if Vanek is a top six guy anymore. He’d be a solid 3rd line player, but I question if that helps this team now.

If The Preds go after a couple of guys on their list, like a recently mentioned Andrew Ladd, and can’t get them then I could see Nashville taking a good look at Vanek and test his value. Poile has made those one year prove it deals before, and it has either worked or didn’t and we were able to move on. With the Expansion Draft upon us, I could see Poile taking a closer look at guys like Vanek who could be signed short term and see if it works instead of risking signing a piece for the long run of this organization.

Next: Nashville Predators Rumored in on Andrew Ladd

My official answer to if the Preds should go after him is to wait. Be patient and see how the first few days of free agency go because we don’t have to force our hand due to the solid team we have already. If Vanek is available after some of those often overpaid free agents have passed then I’d say take a look at him. He could bring a good offensive burst to this team, but let’s not overpay for someone who’s production may be on its way down.