With a void in the Top 9, a seasoned veteran can come and help the Calgary Flames win now. Jaromir Jagr, Jarome Iginla, and Shane Doan could be options, but Thomas Vanek might be the best option yet.
A handful of days have gone by since free agency has opened. Players such as Jaromir Jagr, Jarome Iginla, and Shane Doan remained unbound to a team. The same can be said for Thomas Vanek as well. The Austrian-born forward split time between the Detroit Red Wings and Florida Panthers last season, racking up a combined 48 points in the process. While questions about certain aspects in Vanek’s game still arise, there are no questions about his offensive abilities. The Calgary Flames are looking for depth, along with skill too. Vanek can provide this to the Flames.
Playmaking makes up for lack of speed
At times, Vanek can get exposed in the defensive zone, no doubt about that. His foot speed is not as quick as it was when he was in his 20s. While his speed could be a cause of concern for a young and quick team, Vanek makes up for the lack of speed in terms of playmaking. While he might not be the 40 goal scorer he was ten years ago, he can still score at least 50 points in the right system.
He is coming off his most productive year since 2014, outputting a rate of 0.71 points per gp. In Detroit, Vanek produced 38 points in 48 games last season. At the time of the trade, he was the second leading scorer for the Red Wings behind Henrik Zetterberg. If Vanek were to play in 82 games in Hockeytown, he was on pace for 58 points. That is a good amount of scoring that the Flames could use to bolster the top nine. In Detroit, Vanek spent most of his time on the third line playing with Andreas Athanasiou, a speedy young center for the Detroit Red Wings. 11 of Vanek’s 38 points (29%) came on plays that Athanasiou was involved in on. They created some savvy plays together, despite Vanek’s slower skating speed. Here is one of the plays that they made together during the past campaign.
Where does Vanek fit in Calgary?
A good role for Vanek on the Calgary Flames would be to play alongside Sam Bennett on the third line. In my opinion, he helped Athanasiou grow as a young player in Detroit, and he could have that similar effect to Bennett. At times it seemed like Bennett did not have too many offensive minded players on his line to help create or finish plays. Vanek would be an upgrade to that third line, as he thinks the game like a top line player. At this stage in his career, he can really become an effective third line player.
Don’t Bank on Vanek wearing #62 in Calgary though
This is all speculation, and Vanek might not want to head to Western Canada. He did sign an offer sheet with a team in Western Canada ten years ago. His ship on moving West might have sailed long ago. Calgary is looking to upgrade the top nine. With complimentary players such as Jarome Iginla, Jaromir Jagr, Thomas Vanek and Shane Doan out there, the Flames have options to choose from. Jagr could be a fit in Calgary as well. Iginla could be a fit here too.
Vanek could also fit in Calgary. To have him make no look passes to Sam Bennett or Johnny Gaudreau would be pretty neat to watch.