The thing that has frustrated Wild fans, essentially since the team came into being, was the inability for the team to score goals from multiple lines. They had Marian Gaborik early, then nothing. They had Martin Havlat, who pretty much WAS nothing. Then they signed Zach Parise and added Jason Pominville, but they couldn’t finish in the playoffs like they would have wanted to.They had tried Dany Heatle, but he completely failed to live up to expectations.
So the Wild dumped Heatley, and they are trying it again, signing Thomas Vanek on Tuesday, for a 3 year deal that actually pays him less than they were paying Heatley. Vanek was the same age this past season, 30, as Heatley was before he came to Minnesota, which might be cause for concern for the average fan, but Vanek, despite playing for 3 teams last year, scored more points than Heatley did in his final year before coming to Minnesota. Additionally, Vanek is a different kind of player than Heatley was. He isn’t afraid to go to the net and tip pucks fired from an increasingly offensive blue line, whereas Heatley needed space.
Additionally, while Vanek was a 40 goal scorer in his career, and now scores 25-30 a year, his point total hasn’t gone down. He is seeing the ice better as he gets older, and should be a positive cog in a line with other scorers, rather than just the primary offensive threat. Can you imagine Vanek back on a line with Pominville? Or helping a blossoming star like Charlie Coyle?
The Wild are definitely making another attempt at something that hasn’t worked out for them in the past. They are adding a veteran wing in the hopes that he can still be the offensive threat he has been throughout his career. They are paying him less money than they have given to Heatley, and Vanek is likely to be a better personal fit to the roster than Gavorik or Havlat were. Even if he doesn’t work out, the team isn’t handcuffed to him for any longer than 3 years, either. He might not even be close to done at that point.
Now, if the Wild could just do something about the defense…