The trade for Thomas Vanek was a great one. Not only for the player but the message it sent. It didn’t exactly work out as hoped, but it’s not like Vanek was horrible in his time in Montreal.
STATS: 18 Games | 6 G-9 A = 15 P | 8 PIM | +8 | 46.4% Corsi | 2.2 Point Shares
PLAYOFFS: 17 games | 5 G-5 A = 10 P | 4 PIM | -4 | 46.2% Corsi
STORY: Thomas Vanek was the right idea but the wrong actual player. He just didn’t fit in with the Montreal Canadiens. He likes to play the left wing, but Max Pacioretty was already there on the top line, so to play with him he would have to play the right side. They tried to put him with Tomas Plekanec but the chemistry was just not there.
For a span of a few games, the Vanek-Desharnais-Pacioretty line was one of the best in the NHL. Then the playoffs started, and it sputtered. Michel Therrien had no chance but to split them up but by that point it was too late to create new chemistry with any other players.
vanek will probably best be known for the most goals without actually playing well in Canadiens history. Despite drawing the ire of most of the fan base, he had five goals and five assists for 10 points which put him one point behind Brendan Gallagher and Rene Bourque and Pacioretty. Four of his goals came in two games which is probably why it looks better than he perhaps may have been.
It wasn’t until Game 6 against the New York Rangers where he really came back to the player everyone thought he would be. If Henrik Lundqvist doesn’t make that miraculous save to keep the puck out, it becomes an overtime game, and who knows what happens.
Vanek was the right decision and, like I said, didn’t play badly. He is masterful with the puck and all the magic he had in the regular season went away in the playoffs. He said he wasn’t seriously hurt but the bumps and bruises of a long season definitely played a role. It wasn’t just his off-puck play that suffered but his on-puck play.
However, even though he was disappointing, Vanek was nowhere close to a failing grade for the regular season and playoffs as a whole.
FUTURE: Vanek is an unrestricted free-agent July 1 and will not return to the Canadiens. He will get a contract somewhere, probably even a big one, and will probably score 30 goals next season. However, Vanek is not a player the Canadiens need right now. Someone like him, yes, but as we found out he wasn’t the right one.
It’s a lot easier to find that out after trading Sebastian Collberg and a second round pick than giving out a 7-year, $45+ million contract.