Thomas Vanek was a disappointment for most of the Montreal Canadiens’ run to the Eastern Conference final, but the veteran winger won’t rule out a return to the Original Six team this summer.
The 30-year-old winger likely will test the free-agent market for the first time in his career, per Renaud Lavoie of TVA Sports.
Renaud Lavoie (@renlavoietva) May 31, 2014
Montreal acquired Vanek at the trade deadline for a draft pick and forward prospect Sebastian Collberg, a small price to pay for one of the most skilled forwards in the NHL.
After a productive finish to the regular season (15 points in 18 games with Montreal), Vanek couldn’t carry that scoring form into the playoffs. He totaled 10 points (five goals, five assists) in 17 games, but failed to find the back of the net once against the New York Rangers in the conference finals.
Vanek’s lack of scoring led some people to believe he was battling an injury, but he recently confirmed that a lack of chemistry was an issue, not an injury.
Vanek said he's not injured, just never found any chemistry once he was removed from top line. Lack of shots was due to lack of chemistry—
Аrpon Basu (@ArponBasu) May 31, 2014
Despite his tendency to disappear in important games, Vanek should receive a rich long-term contract as an unrestricted free agent. He’s the best forward available and one of the few top-tier free-agent wingers in the prime of his career.
Vanek is expected to earn at least $7 million per season in his next deal. He just finished a seven-year, $50 million contract that began in the 2007-08 season.
The Minnesota Wild are the one team that frequently gets mentioned when Vanek’s future is debated.