33-Year-Old Left Wing – Free Agent
Thomas Vanek Contract Information:
Signed a one-year, $2.6 million contract with the Red Wings in July of 2016.
Vanek was not among the Panthers' protected players, Harvey Fialkov of the Sun Sentinel reports.
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RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
Vanek had the final year of his contract bought out by the Wild, allowing the Red Wings to snatch him up for one year at $2.6 million ahead of the 2016-17 campaign. Thereís no question the Austrian is talented offensively Ė heís collected 649 points in 817 career regular-season games Ė but even when healthy, the 11-year veteran can be maddeningly inconsistent from one contest to the next; youíre playing with fire if you use Vanek in daily leagues, especially since early projections have him slotted in a bottom-six role.
Vanek may not be the player he once was, but his shoot-first mentality still lets him rack up counting stats in bunches. Now on the wrong side of 30, Vanekís glaring defensive shortcomings occasionally pushed him out of Minnesotaís top-six, though thatís not for a lack of offensive production. Last season, playing 80 games for the first time since 2010-11, Vanek scored 21 goals while adding 31 assists, giving him the third-highest point haul on the team. And Vanek once again was a presence on the power play, scoring five goals and 12 assists with the man advantage. If he can develop enough trust from the coaching staff in order to increase his minutes load, Vanek should still deliver a fantasy-friendly line, even if his value to the Wild is confined soley to his point-scoring abilities.
Many have derided Vanek's postseason performance in Montreal or even his regular-season production from 2013-14, crying out that Vanek is in decline. If anyone in your league believes that, all the better for you. Many people will have been fooled by Vanek's so-called decline, but thereís little reason to dismiss what heís accomplished. His past season was nothing but exhausting -- he switched teams twice and played in the Olympics, and then skated for the Habs as they advanced all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals. And sure, his slow feet were exposed playing in Montreal. But in joining the Wild, Vanek will skate on one of the best lines of his career (outside John Tavares, of course). Minnesota's top six is deep enough that even as line shuffling takes place, he'll be playing with playmakers like Mikael Granlund, Mikko Koivu, Jason Pominville and Zach Parise. Vanek stands to have a solid year in his new home and come within striking distance of 30 goals and 70 points. Don't select him too high, but don't shy away from him when his time comes in your draft, either.
Despite battling through injuries during the shortened season, Vanek re-established himself as an offensive force, posting 41 points in 38 games. He's notoriously streaky (last year's output included two five-point nights), so fantasy owners should always be on the lookout for a buy-low or sell-high opportunity. The 29-year old Austrian is entering the final season of a seven-year contract, and could be on the move with the Sabres seemingly in rebuild mode. If he stays in Buffalo, owners can expect a roller coaster ride that ultimately sees Vanek finish in the 30-goal, 65-point range.
Vanek is a marquee name in Buffalo, but his inconsistency continues to frustrate fantasy owners. His 26 goals last year were his lowest total since posting 25 as a rookie in 2005-06, and he was once again prone to extended cold spells, including just eight goals from January to the end of the season. It's reasonable to expect a return to the 30-goal plateau, but with the offense in Buffalo beginning to spread, it would be unwise to reach too soon on draft day. Vanek remains a talented winger, but he has failed to crack 30 goals twice in the last three seasons since his 40-goal campaign in 2008-2009.
Vanek is the out-and-out star of the Sabres, and last year he took on a strong leadership role for the first time since being in Buffalo. There may be a little reason for concern about an offensive regression from Vanek this year with playmaking linemate Tim Connolly now in Toronto, but even a bad season should still mean close to 30 goals and 35 to 40 assists.
Vanek's production declined for the third consecutive year in 2009-10. The ex-Minnesota Golden Gopher is one of the most up-and-down players in the National Hockey League. He can get four goals in a game with ease, like he did against Ottawa last season, and then he will disappear for two weeks. Owners will always look for the Vanek from 2006-07, the one who scored 43 goals, but after the past three seasons, it's clear that Vanek is a guy who will get you 25 to 30 goals and hover around 60 points.
If he's healthy, Vanek may be the superstar Buffalo needs this season to take the team to the playoffs. Despite facing a broken jaw last season, Vanek still managed to net 40 goals and 64 points in 73 games. Although he led the team in goals, his knack for scoring sometimes comes at the expense of his defense, which is why he was minus-1 on the season. He is best on the power play, scoring half of his goals in man advantage situations. Ā@
Vanek is probably the biggest key to Buffaloís 2008-09 success. He underperformed last season in the first year of a massive seven-year, $50 million deal. Vanekís scoring output dropped from 43 goals, 84 points and a plus-47 rating in 2006-07 to 36 goals, 64 points and a minus-5 rating in 2007-08. The 24-year-old is extremely talented yet enigmatic. Vanek seemed to struggle last season under the pressure induced by a top-line role and his hefty contract, but now that he has had a full year to adjust, heís a good bounce-back candidate. Thereís a lot to like about Vanekís game; despite his underwhelming 2007-08 campaign, he still tied for 13th in the NHL in goals and he set a new career-high with 19 power-play markers. Somewhere in the 75-80 point range is a reasonable 2008-09 target.
There is no doubt that Vanek is one of the leagueís best young wingers, but is he worth the seven years and $50 million that Buffalo anted up to avoid losing him to Edmonton? Skill-wise, yes, but there are reasons to doubt his likely near-term production. Part of what made Vanek so effective last year was the Sabresí offensive depth; he contributed 43 goals and 84 points from the third line. Vanek will be the Sabresí go-to guy this year and will receive lots of attention from opposing defensemen. On the plus side, heíll receive more ice time, especially on the power play. On the downside, Vanek will be hard-pressed to match last yearís numbers alongside a weaker supporting cast. Heís only a third-year player and his exponential rise from his rookie year seems too steep (from minus-11 to plus-47!). Vanek was benched in the 2005-06 postseason and he struggled in the playoffs last year, so he might not be ready for prime time.
When you look at Vanekís final numbers last season, youíll say ďnot badĒ and possibly remark that 25 goals and 11 power play tallies arenít too shabby for a rookie. But he left a lot on the table, as Ruff is impatient with rookies -- especially ones who sometimes tend to forget about the south side of the ice. Vanek was benched for stretches or demoted to the fourth line on several occasions, and was almost non-existent in the playoffs. Heíll learn to improve those things that keep him in the coachís good graces moving forward, and the talent is most definitely there. Vanek is a must in any keeper league, and 30 goals could be in the very near future if you own him (remember he had 42 AHL goals the season prior to his 25-goal rookie campaign). Weíd be shocked if he didnít exceed last seasonís 48 points.
Vanek was the first-round draft pick (fifth overall) of the Sabres in the June 2003 Entry Draft. He's a prospect who's ready to making the leap to the NHL after scoring 42 goals in his first full AHL season, and will probably be able to help the Sabres this season. With Miro Satan gone, he could be a fantasy sleeper in deep leagues, and should definitely be picked up in all keeper formats. His power-play potential seems to be his best skill.
Vanek was the first-round draft pick (fifth overall) of the Sabres in the June 2003 Entry Draft. He's a prospect who's fairly close to making the leap to the NHL, and will probably be able to help the Sabres in a year or two. He'll spend the 2004-05 season between Rochester of the AHL and getting his feet wet with the Sabres. He's a good get in keeper leagues, however.