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Buying out Thomas Vanek was arguably the biggest roster move the Wild made this summer, but was it worth it? The obvious answer is that ita€™s not only going to be impossible to tell, but ita€™s also too early to tell. He should pair perfectly with Zach Parise, who is more of a playmaker than a goal scorer and instantly become the lynchpin of the Wild power play. After inking Parise a few years ago, the Wild have been searching for someone to pair him with.
Vanek is a shark, however, who cruises through traffic as everything happens around him before popping up in the perfect place to snipe in a well-timed pass or deflect a point shot. The terms are reasonable and, considering the likes of Dave Bolland and Brooks Orpik are commanding north of $5 million per season, $6.5 million is not expensive at all for a 30-goal (or more) scorer. However, barring a disaster, the chain reaction after buying out Vanek may unlock the ultimate answer.
Vanek has roots in the state and clearly wanted to play for this team—everything fell into place and Winnesota fans have to be overjoyed that they didn’t need to shell out too much to bring him in.
Now, there are several people who wona€™t even read this because of the obviousness of the answer in their opinion.
Vanek was reviled by some Wild fans, and while on the surface ita€™s easy to see why, there are several other factors to consider.As outlined in my article earlier this summer pondering the Vanek buyout before it happened, Vanek was deceptively productive for the Wild.


Sure, he came with a hefty price tag, but relative to other Wild forwards, Vanek was still pretty good.
He ranked fourth on the team in points per 60 minutes, ranking only behind Niederreiter, Haula and Parise. While Vanek wasna€™t the All-Star caliber player he was paid to be, he also faced several hurdles.Most notably was his health. I dona€™t think it was a case of advanced age biting Vanek so much as poor luck, as his injuries were all somewhat unrelated. Therea€™s no doubt that playing through a hernia in 2015 hurt his play down the stretch and in the playoffs, and he missed several games at the end of 2016 with a rib injury. Whata€™s important about that is that Vanek wasna€™t able to take full advantage of the relative offensive freedom that John Torchetti brought with him after Mike Yeo.
It was clear that Yeoa€™s system and style stifled offense in deference to being responsible defensively, and perhaps the biggest disappointment of buying out Vanek this summer was not getting to see him play for an offensive mind like Bruce Boudreau.However, even as an ardent Vanek defender for the past two seasons, Ia€™m still able to recognize that the buyout of Vanek was ultimately the right decision. It was the right decision, but not because he wasna€™t productive enough, but moreso that he wasna€™t productive enough for his pay, and most importantly, his position. But more importantly, it allowed the Wild the room to sign a pair of free agents that could end up having big parts in the Wilda€™s success this season.Signing Eric Staal and Chris Stewart may seem like relatively nondescript signings, but I think theya€™re underrated signings, even by Wild fans.
It will be supremely easy to link the Vanek buyout with those signings, since their combined cap hits of 4.65 million so closely fits under the 5 million in savings from Vanek.


Stewart has played in Minnesota, and played under Boudreau, and had a tremendous run here at the end of the 2014-15 season. But the more important piece to the puzzle is Eric Staal, a falling star of sorts that is looking to resurrect his career here. While the gamble of Staal regaining All Star productivity is steep one, the ripple effect of his signing is perhaps even more important.That ripple effect of course was keeping Charlie Coyle and Mikael Granlund as wings.
We say tremendous growth from Coyle last season, and it seemed like he played a more defined role and got better results playing as a wing. Granlunda€™s revelation came much later in the season, but many Wild fans wona€™t forget the very impressive play Granlund displayed during the playoff series with the Stars after being moved to the wing. Seeing him play a full season with countryman Mikko Koivu as his center could finally lead to unlocking some of the potential wea€™ve been so impatiently waiting on for several seasons now.So really, yes, while ita€™s going to be relatively impossible to measure the success of Vaneka€™s buyout, and even if he has a fantastic season in Detroit (which is entirely possible), the big picture of what his buyout did for the Wild could still be the best move for the Wild in the long run. The ripples of his buyout could even be felt for seasons, depending on Staala€™s success, Coyle and Granlunda€™s success, or quite possibly, the cap space, or lack thereof next season.



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