Thomas Vanek will be lacing up his skates for the seventh different NHL team since the 2013-14 season when the puck drops for real next month.
The 33-year-old winger, who signed a one-year, $2 million contract with the Canucks on September 1, came up as a point of conversation during Elliotte Friedman’s appearance on Vancouver’s Sportsnet 960 Tuesday afternoon.
The Insider was asked about the perception of Vanek around the league, which also provided Friedman the chance to mention which other teams may have had free agent interest in the veteran forward.
“I think guys like Vanek. I think guys who have played with him do like him,” said Friedman. “I know in Buffalo, and obviously I’ve covered a lot of hockey in Buffalo where he started his career and had his best seasons, his teammates really liked him. They always said good things about him.
“I know when he briefly played in Montreal, the guys there liked him. People marvel at his skill. He’s an incredibly talented player. I think it was David Desharnais who told me he’d never played with a guy before who didn’t want him to put his stick on the ice. He said, ‘I don’t need that target, but just be ready and I’ll have it with you.’ They marvel at his skill and his ability to do things.
“I think the knock on Vanek is obvious. He’s not as committed as teams feel that guys need to be. He’s never really been, in the last few years, the kind of playoff player that you need for the money that he makes.
“But the bottom line is that everybody looks at him and says, ‘He’s a talented guy,’ and I don’t think guys dislike him or anything…
“I think there were some other teams looking at him this summer. I know Detroit was looking at bringing him back. They have a real cap situation and they still have to sign Athanasiou. I’d heard at one point the Rangers were really interested, and I think he was interested in them, but that fell through for whatever reason.
“And then you guys came up probably with the biggest offer. And don’t forget Jim Benning knows Thomas Vanek really well. So I think he looked at a couple of situations and decided that this one was the best one for him.
“And you know what? If he has any kind of year, he’ll get a draft pick like he did for Detroit last year.”
The Red Wings received a conditional third-round pick from the Florida Panthers, along with Dylan McIlrath, at the trade deadline last season.
Vanek had 15 goals and 23 assists in 48 games for the Red Wings, and added two goals and eight helpers in 20 outings with the Panthers.
Source: Sportsnet 650