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Flames free agent targets: Thomas Vanek

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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  • JoelOttosJock

    The Flames should trade Backlund to Montreal for Scherbak and Gallagher. Then send Stone and Frolik to whomevernis willing to absorb them for draft picks. Sign Peter Mrazek and JVR and Jay Beagle.

    Gaudreau Bennett Tkchuck
    JVR Monahan Lindholm
    Scherbak Janko Gallagher
    Lazar Ryan Brouwer

    Gio Brodie
    Hanifann Hamonic
    Valimakki Anderrson

    Kulak and Hathaway extras

          • Baalzamon

            There’s also the fact that he suggested signing Beagle but the roster clearly has Derek Ryan on it. For the record I don’t want either of them, but I’d take Ryan over Beagle any day.

            There’s also no way all that would fit under the cap. Not with what Van Riemsdyk is going to be looking for as a free agent.

            I thought we were giving young players a chance to win roster spots? Where’s Mangiapane in all this? He’s absolutely a better player than Scherbak.

  • Mickey O

    Looking back at last season, a lot of things obviously went wrong. That could start with coaching, but that’s another novel for another time.

    Coming out of camp, Treliving was looking at this motley crew to play on the RW:

    Ferland – LHS
    Frolik – LHS
    Lazar – RHS
    Brouwer – RHS

    Versteeg – RHS was going to play on his off wing. Not liking that one bit, GMBT brought in Jagr late into the game. Jagr admitted himself that he hadn’t trained properly in the summer, and it would take a while to get his legs under him.

    So what happened? In a nutshell, outside of Lazar, every single one of those guys got hurt at some point in the season. Hathaway got called up from the farm, and looked pretty good for a few games but continued to sink the Bennett – Jankowski pairing for most of the season.

    Gulutzan kept trotting out that line even though Lazar looked pretty good there very early on – but they were simply not getting results on the score-board to the point of being farcical.

    The situation is getting sorted. Lindholm is a useful RW who’s natural position is centre. Shore might still get signed, or a Rebar favourite in Derek Ryan is another RHS to play in the bottom six. I think a little patience, and a little faith, is needed to let Treliving re-balance the lineup.

  • Joe Flames

    No way. I watched his whole career in Buffalo, and if you think Dougie Hamilton was disinterested, he is Doug Gilmour-level intensity compared to Vanek.
    Vanek only plays when he wants to.

    • DJ_44

      Canucks fan here. The was the knock on Vanek but after watching him last year in Van; it is not really fair. He is by no means an enthusiastic backchecker, but he gets there. He is strong on the boards in the defensive zone and gets the puck out.

      Offensively he is wicked smart. Fantastic passer. Soft hands and the half slapper that brings a smile to face even when it isn’t in the shootout or a breakaway.

      He may not be a fit for the Flames, but he will make who ever he plays with better.

  • Speed Kills

    Just Saw This….
    ” Larry Brooks of the NY Post: Rangers GM Jeff Gorton may be deciding on whether to trade Kevin Hayes or Mika Zibanejad.
    It was reported over the weekend that the 26-years old Hayes is looking for a five-year contract at upwards of $5.5 million a season. Zibanejad was 24-years old last offseason when he signed a five-year extension at $5.3 million “.
    What would be the cost to Acquire ~Mika Zibanejad~ I have to wonder if picks & Prospects (like Gillies & Kylington +???) would be enough as they seem to be going full blown rebuild?

  • Garry T

    I think the Flames take Grabner in free agency to provide scoring and leadership with a 3 year 2.75 mill contract per year. They may go after Perron, but they will target two more right wingers and a center, and expect those guys to be aggressive, skilled and fast.