Earlier, Taylor McKee wrote about the Flames’ obvious, glaring need for a scoring right winger. It’s something the team has lacked since Jarome Iginla was dealt away in 2013. The team’s top line duo of Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau has never had a true trigger-man on the right side.
McKee wrote about the pesky, well-travelled David Perron as a possible fit. He concluded that, on the ice, Perron would be ideal. But, in the real world, given the salary Perron would command, it might not be realistic. Instead, the Flames will likely have to go the cheaper route as they avoid making a massive investment on a player on the wrong side of 30.
How about Thomas Vanek? He’s generally a left winger, but he shoots from the right side, which is ultimately the thing the Flames lack.
With Kris Versteeg and Chris Stewart hitting free agency come July 1, the Flames’ current right-shooting winger depth looks like this: Elias Lindholm (also a centre), Troy Brouwer, Curtis Lazar, Spencer Foo, Garnet Hathaway. That’s really, really bad. Vanek might not be perfect, but I don’t think it’s presumptuous to suggest he’s better at scoring goals than all of those players combined, save the very recent addition of Lindholm.
Vanek has played for four different teams since he was bought out by the Minnesota Wild during the 2016 offseason.
He signed with the Red Wings in 2016-17 on a one-year deal worth $2.6 million. He scored 15 goals and put up 38 points in 48 games before getting dealt to the Panthers at the trade deadline. He fell of a cliff in Florida, scoring two goals and 10 points in 20 games with the Panthers.
That bad stretch run probably lowered his value in free agency as Vanek ended up inking a one-year deal worth $2 million with the Canucks the following summer. He scored 17 goals and 24 assists in 61 games with the Canucks and then got dealt to the Blue Jackets. This time, Vanek actually played well down the stretch. He scored seven goals and racked up 15 points in 19 games for the Blue Jackets before ghosting on the team in the playoffs.
Like with last year, given Vanek’s bad playoff showing (two points in six games and a first round exit), he probably won’t command anything more than another one-year deal. Like I said earlier, Vanek is far from a perfect player. He doesn’t play well defensively, he’s a poor skater, and he tends to disappear in the playoffs. But still, he scores goals. He’s 34 years old right now, but given his success over the past few years, you have to assume, if utilized properly, Vanek will continue to score goals.
That’s a big part of what unravelled the Flames last season. They couldn’t score. Adding Vanek to the mix would give Calgary a good option — well, at the very least a better option than what they have now — for Gaudreau and Monahan on the top line and a threat on their power play. At the very least it’s a much smaller risk than throwing a bunch of money at James Neal or David Perron.
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