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Flames Free Agent Target: Thomas Vanek

Calgary may look to bolster their forward core on the open market

NHL: Columbus Blue Jackets at Calgary Flames Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

With the Flames having virtually no picks in the upcoming draft, we’re going to look ahead to free agency. The Flames had quite a few holes last season, but one that often hurt them the most was depth scoring. So with that in mind, here is a free agent forward that could fit nicely onto the team.

Thomas Vanek

NHL: Columbus Blue Jackets at Boston Bruins Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Regular Season: 80 GP, 24 G, 32 A, 56 PTS, 14.3 SH%

Playoffs: 6 GP, 1 G, 1 A, 2 PTS

If I asked you who had the most points last year among pending unrestricted free agents, names like John Tavares and John Carlson would obviously enter your mind. But would Vanek? He had the fourth most points among pending UFA’s, ahead of the “big-name targets” like James van Riemsdyk, James Neal, or the recently signed $49M Evander Kane.

Before last year’s trade deadline, I pushed for Vanek hard both in articles and on our podcast, saying Vanek would’ve been a great player for the Flames to acquire as he would’ve checked a lot of boxes for the team that was struggling on the PP.

He ended going to Columbus for basically nothing (Jussi Jokinen and a 23 year old AHL prospect) and ended the year with 15 points in

19 games for the Blue Jackets. In the process, he helped solidify the Jackets third line and get them into the playoffs where they lost in six games to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals.

There are some people who knock Vanek’s “compete” and “work ethic” and justifiably so based on some past performances. However he’s now had two solid seasons since being bought out by the Minnesota Wild.

Last year he had 48 points in 68 games (58 point pace) split between the Red Wings and Panthers. Over the last two years he’s averaged 0.7 points per game.

Granted his defensive game has never been great but if you put him with two responsible forwards like Matthew Tkachuk and Mikael Backlund, he could really elevate the offensive production on that line.

He’s a right handed shooting forward who can put up points, play anywhere up and down the lineup, and can also take a big role on the powerplay. All things the Flames were lacking in last season.

In the last two offseasons Vanek has signed very reasonable one-year contracts at $2.6M and $2M respectively despite putting up similar production to this past year. There isn’t much reason to believe that he would be signed for anymore than one or two years at a similar cap hit.

He may be getting overshadowed by some of the other big name free agents, but the Flames would be wise to take a close look at him as an option to improve their depth in the short-run rather than looking at some of the bigger name forwards who will be looking for term as well as much more money.

Should the Flames go for Vanek? Vote in the poll below and click here if you can’t see it.


Should the Flames sign Thomas Vanek?

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