Oilers Trade Target: Thomas Vanek

Back in 2006/07, there was an Austrian playing for the Buffalo Sabres, his name was Thomas Vanek, and that year he scored 43 goals to lead the NHL. Well, the Oilers were looking for some scoring on the wing and decided to piss everyone off and do the unthinkable and given that Vanek was an RFA, a 7 year/$50M offer sheet was offered and signed by Thomas Vanek.

Of course, now we know that Buffalo matched the offer and Vanek remained a Sabre for another nine or so seasons before moving on to the Canadiens, Islanders, Wild, and now Red Wings.

Which brings me to the next point.

The Detroit Red Wings are not exactly out of the wild card race but they’re competing against the teams in that ridiculously competitive Metropolitan Division and at the moment it looks as if Philadelphia is their closest target. The Red Wings have 39 points and Flyers have 45 points with Detroit having a game in hand, so not really a major obstacle to overcome but still.I believe that this is the year that Ken Holland and co. bite the bullet and start a minor rebuild.

I believe that this is the year that Ken Holland and co. bite the bullet and start a minor rebuild and that starts with dealing the soon-to-be free agents. Vanek, Drew Miller, and Steve Ott would all be great additions to a playoff-bound Edmonton Oilers but for this post, I’m speaking more to right now than come playoff time. So Thomas Vanek is the guy.

Check out the shot at the 1:37 mark of that video… Good lord, that goalie never even seen the puck coming.

What are the Oilers Looking For?

  1. Size
  2. A shooter for McDavid
  3. A right-hander for the PP

Thomas Vanek (33 years old) is 6’2″ and 218lbs according to Eliteprospects.com and he’s averaged about 190 shots per year. Compare that with annual Oilers 1st line RW Jordan Eberle’s 160 shots per year and we can deduce that Vanek shoots more… Obviously. That’s just an elementary observation though and he’s failed to reach the 190 mark in his previous two seasons…

In 28 games this year, the Austrian has 9 goals and 14 assists with 70 shots on goal and 14 PIMs. He’s no.2 in scoring for Detroit.

I’ll preface the following with the more than suitable hashtag, #SmallSampleSize.

In 2016/17, Vanek is (according to stats.hockeyanalysis.com, using 5×5, 300 min. TOI, fwds):

  • #7 in the NHL amongst forwards for pts/60: 2.79 (SAY WHAT?!)
  • #33 in shots/60: 9.12
  • #62 in All PP situations for shots/60: 12.38 (Draisait, Lucic, and Letestu ahead of him)
  • #77 in All PP situations for pts/60: 4.34
  • #63 in Corsi For per 60 Relative to Teammates: 5.30

So, what I’m reading here is that the numbers presented tell us that he is still a top-6 winger in the NHL and in most cases still a 1st line winger. At least, offensively.

Earlier in his career, he was a PP goal-scoring machine scoring in double-digits with the man advantage in his first 7 seasons. In 2007/08 and 2008/09 he combined for 39 goals on the PP…

Now he hasn’t come close to those early-career numbers in some time but he has a history of scoring in double digits and Who knows? Give him the right kind of centre and he might get close again.

The fact of the matter is that he ticks off the necessary boxes.

Speaking of teammates, I was wondering how Vanek did with his current ones. So I checked out who he was playing with the most and their impacts on each other.

  1. Gustav Nyquist (248 min)
    – Together: GF60 – 3.38, GA60 – 2.41, GF% – 58%, CF60 – 55.05, CA60 – 58.68, CF% – 48%
    – Vanek Apart: GF60 – 4.07, GA60 – 2.44, GF% – 62.5%, CF60 – 53.67, CA60 – 59.36, CF% – 47.5%
    – Nyquist Apart: GF60 – 2.14, GA60 – 1.91, GF% – 52.9%, CF60 – 51.22, CA60 – 58.18, CF% – 47.3%Major Observations: The GF60 when Nyquist and Vanek are apart from each other. It’s nearly 2 goals! Nyqvist’s GF% also drops hard when away from Vanek but his GA60 is also much better away.
  2. Frans Nielsen (106 min)
    – Together: GF60 – 2.82, GA60 – 3.38, GF% – 45.5%, CF60 – 71.54, CA60 – 61.96, CF% – 53.6%
    – Vanek Apart: GF60 – 3.89, GA60 – 1.95, GF% – 66.7%, CF60 – 46.44, CA60 – 57.29, CF% – 44.8%
    – Nielsen Apart: GF60 – 1.64, GA60 – 2.96, GF% – 35.7%, CF60 -48.60, CA60 – 53.53, CF% – 47.6%Major Observations: Some big differences here. CF60 together is YUGE! Vanek’s GF% is WAY better away from Nielsen, as is his GA60 and GF60 (weird). Please correct me if I’m wrong but when these two are together, they are really good at getting shots to the other team’s net and bad at keeping them away from their own net but take Vanek away and everything suddenly improves exponentially?
  3. Dylan Larkin (87 min)
    – Together: GF60 – 2.06, GA60 – 2.75, GF% – 42.9%, CF60 – 34.4, CA60 – 59.86, CF% – 36.5%
    – Vanek Apart: GF60 – 4.08, GA60 – 2.30, GF% – 64%, CF60 – 62.28, CA60 – 58.45, CF% – 51.6%
    – Larkin Apart: GF60 – 1.97, GA60 – 2.68, GF% – 42.4%, CF60 – 53.88, CA60 – 53.59, CF% – 50.1%Major Observations: GF60, GF%, and CF60 jump out immediately. Vanek seems to score at double the rate away from Larkin but Larkin’s possession stats are better away from Vanek (apart from CF% slightly).

Another reason I wanted to look at those WOWY numbers is because of Larkin especially. He’s probably one of a handful of players that can match Connor McDavid’s speed and that has been a point of contention in Edmonton recently when talking about players that can produce with McDavid. Lucic and Eberle are too slow (But Draisaitl and Maroon are the next comings of Selanne and Bure…)

Since Larkin isn’t producing more than Vanek away from him, I’ll say this shouldn’t be a concern when considering Vanek as a winger for Connor.

If Jordan Eberle can continue on the pace he is, he should end the season with around 16 goals and 52 points. Vanek? Nearly the same but for a third of what Eberle is being paid AND he’s a shooter w/size… That being said, we are waiting for Eberle’s shooting percentage to come back to normal as he usually shoots around 14% and he’s firing blanks so far this year (7.8%).

What you won’t like about Vanek… He’s streaky, can look Eberlazy, and he’s staying about as healthy as Taylor Hall (Sorry, had to get that in there. Oh! Did you know that Patrick Maroon has 5 more goals than Hall this year?). Plus, don’t expect much defense out of the guy. His 5v5 Fenwick (unblocked shot attempts) Against per 60 Relative to Teammates is 4.04 and that places him 271 out of 305 fwds. The silver lining there is that his nearest peers are players like Jeff Carter and Jeff Skinner.

The Price You Pay

Vanek is making $2.6M for this year only and I feel that’s very affordable. Not as affordable as say, Radim Vrbata ($1M) but definitely not as expensive as Jarome Iginla (%5.3M).

I’d expect him to cost a premium IF the Oilers were to ring up Ken Holland and inquire as to the asking price. Now, given that Detroit has draft picks for every round in the upcoming draft, I don’t believe that would be a priority but they’d have to be included. I’m also of the belief that the Red Wings would rather not go the route of a long rebuild. So, I’m going to say IF I was in the GM’s seat in the Motor City, I’d look for younger players that are NHLers already or on the verge of becoming full-time NHLers.

What do the Oilers have that fit that bill that they’d be willing to move?

  • Brandon Davidson (LHD): For sure. I’ll go out on a limb and say that Davy is better than Ryan Sproul, Xavier Ouellet, Nick Jensen, and Alexey Marchenko.
  • Anton Lander (C/W): Remember the damage he did when Todd Nelson was the coach of the Oilers for that short time after the Eakins firing? Well, Nelson is the Red Wings minor league coach. Is the connection too obvious?
  • Mark Fayne (RHD): Fayne doesn’t quite fit the description of young NHLer but Detroit’s defense looks to be in shambles with all the injuries. Would they be interested in a player with the kind of experience that Fayne has? Contract would be a problem here though, I’m sure.
  • Anton Slepyshev (RW): The Russian would most likely be the player traded I think. He’s got speed, size, grooming time in the AHL, he’s gritty. I mean, I wish the Oilers would toss him up on the big team some more so we could watch him but I think the Red Wings could envision a line where Dylan Larkin centres Evgeni Svechnikov and Anton Slepyshev and they’d light the NHL on fire.

Others include: Iiro Pakarinen, Jordan Oesterle, and Dillon Simpson.

Sorry, I can’t see the Red Wings having a use for Benoit Pouliot unless the Oilers included a good prospect and a 1st rounder.

Right now the Oilers are at 48/50 contracts. So any deals they make should be a 2 for 1, or the Lowetide-famous, 3 for 1.

That defense in Bakersfield needs to be trimmed up a bit. They’ve got Joey “I was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award” Laleggia playing LW for Heaven’s sake.

In conclusion, I feel that anytime you have the option to add a veteran that has scored over 300 goals in the NHL, that’s something, as a GM, you should be doing.

10 years after the original offer sheet, it’s time to bring Thomas Vanek to Edmonton. For real this time.

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Beer League Hero Written by:

I’m the Beer League Hero! I am from Camrose, Alberta but I make my home in Taipei City, Taiwan. I’ve been through the ups and downs and the highs and the Lowes, the Bonsignores and the McDavids, the Sathers and the Eakins but I’ll never leave my Oilers, no matter what!

They’re with me until the end and then some. GO OILERS GO!