Thomas Vanek will hit the open market on July 1, says agent

Jun 3, 10:01 PM

That Austrian-born super sniper Thomas Vanek, lately of the Montreal Canadiens, was determined to test the open market as a first-time unrestricted free agent this summer was the worst-kept secret in hockey for months. 

Vanek was explicit about wanting to test the open market on July 1 in March, and the widespread belief that he couldn't be re-signed prevented the New York Islanders from maximizing their return for the skilled forward at the trade deadline.

So guess what topic Vanek's agent Steve Bartlett confirmed on Tuesday evening?

Shocker! Bartlett added that Vanek, who he's previously said really enjoyed playing in Montreal, would consider an offer from the Canadiens on July 1.

Vanek has said that "winning" is his chief priority in free agency, but pretty much everyone believes that he's bound to join the Minnesota Wild this summer. The Wild are reportedly willing to spend whatever it takes to land the scoring winger, although perhaps they'll be more cost-conscious after Vanek struggled mightily in the postseason.

Feature photo courtesy of USA TODAY Sports/Jean-Yves Ahern

Jun 30, 12:47 PM

Report: 8-10 teams still in the running to land Vanek, including Wild

Jun 30, 12:47 PM

Pending unrestricted free agent Thomas Vanek is free to sign with a new team on Tuesday, and there's still 8-10 teams on his radar according to ESPN's Pierre LeBrun.

The Wild are among those clubs, though they're unwilling to give Vanek the sort of term he declined when the Islanders made him a seven-year contract offer worth nearly $50 million in the spring. For Vanek, who reportedly met with Wild coach Mike Yeo on Sunday, that isn't necessarily a stumbling block.

Vanek has been rumored to be Minnesota bound for much of the past 18 months and the former Golden Gopher still lives in Stillwater, Minn.. While the prospect of being reunited with close friend and neighbor Jason Pominville remains intriguing to Vanek and the Wild remain in the running, it's possible that another team will blow him away when the market opens and ultimately land his services.

The Vanek sweeps are coming to a head and despite his inconsistent performance in the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs, the Austrian-born sniper is still one of the most heavily sought after players in free agency.

Feature photo courtesy of USA TODAY Sports/Gary A. Vasquez

Jun 29, 9:59 AM

Report: Wild will meet with Thomas Vanek as early as Sunday

Jun 29, 9:59 AM

The Minnesota Wild are keen on signing a few free agents this summer and one of those is Thomas Vanek.

Michael Russo of the StarTribune reported Sunday morning, "...bet that Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher and coach Mike Yeo will try to get together in Minnesota with pending free agents Matt Niskanen and Thomas Vanek."

Russo also reported the Wild plan to meet with Vanek this week, possibly today.

Jun 26, 8:11 PM

Report: Wild unwilling to give pending unrestricted free agent Vanek a long-term deal

Jun 26, 8:11 PM

The Minnesota Wild are the presumptive destination of choice for pending unrestricted free agent sniper Thomas Vanek, as they've been for much of the past year. 

On Wednesday, the Wild reportedly reached out to Vanek and agent Steve Bartlett, with the two sides reportedly planning to speak in person Thursday. It would seem that during the course of that discussion, the Wild informed Bartlett of their preference not to commit to his client with a long-term contract.

From TSN's Pierre LeBrun, during a segment of Insider Trading on Thursday:

The message that the Minnesota Wild relayed to Vanek's agent Steve Bartlett (on Thursday) was, "Yes we have interest, but not in a long-term deal." If there's going to be a signing, it's going to be for 3 or 4 years max.

Could Minnesota's hard bargain put a crimp in the much anticipated, seemingly inevitable union between the Wild and Vanek?

Jun 26, 12:06 AM

Report: Wild expected to meet with the agent for Thomas Vanek this weekend

Jun 26, 12:06 AM

The prospect of former Minnesota Golden Gopher star Thomas Vanek signing a deal with the Minnesota Wild as an unrestricted free agent has been considered something of an inevitability for nearly two years (or for at least 18 months). 

So it comes as no surprise that the Wild reportedly contacted Vanek's agent Steve Bartlett on the first day of the free agent interview period on Wednesday. Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher is expected to meet with Bartlett at the NHL Entry Draft in Philadelphia, Pa. this weekend.

The 30-year-old Vanek makes his offseason home in Stillwater, Minn. and managed 27 goals and 68 points in 78 games with the Buffalo Sabres, New York Islanders and Montreal Canadiens last season. Vanek disappointed in the postseason though, and may ultimately have to sign a contract for significantly less money than the Islanders offered him this past winter.

The Wild also reportedly reached out to Matt Niskanen, Paul Stastny, and Willie Mitchell on Wednesday. 

Jun 15, 8:49 AM

Report: Thomas Vanek 'no longer a given' to sign with Wild

Jun 15, 8:49 AM

Over the course of the 2013-14 NHL season, it seemed as though Thomas Vanek signing with the Minnesota Wild as a free agent this summer was a foregone conclusion

Several factors may have rained on that particular parade, not the least of which being the 30-year-old's playoff performance with the Montreal Canadiens juxtaposed with the Wild's own postseason success.

As per Michael Russo of the Star Tribune:

Thomas Vanek is no longer a given ... the bright future that many of the kids provide the Wild coupled with Vanek’s tough postseason with Montreal has changed things.

The Wild has a lot of players 28 and older, a lot of players 24 and younger. You don’t want to get too many players north of 30 on long-term deals, so there’s a specific price point I think the Wild’s willing to reach with Vanek ... (He) will have good options in free agency, so is he really going to sign in Minnesota for two or three years? Hard to believe, especially after reportedly turning down a seven-year, $49 million deal with the Islanders. While that contract probably won’t be on the table with any team anymore, he certainly should still be able to get decent term of four or five years with some teams.

Vanek scored five goals and added five assists in Montreal's run to the Eastern Conference Final, while the Wild pushed the Chicago Blackhawks to six games in the second round while receiving significant contributions from young players such as Mikael Granlund, Charlie Coyle, Erik Haula and Nino Niederreiter.

The Wild is set to be free from Dany Heatley's $7.5-million cap hit once free agency begins, and his lack of production in the final years of his long-term, big ticket deal may serve as a first-hand cautionary tale as Minnesota considers whether to make a pitch for Vanek's services.