When Thomas Vanek was traded to the Islanders last Sunday night for the hefty price of Matt Moulson and a first- and second-round pick, my TweetDeck looked like the “Price is Right” wheel. Frantic questions propelled in from Wild fans:
Q: Why didn’t the Wild trade for Vanek?
A: 1) Like the majority of teams in this salary-cap gridlocked league, the Wild currently doesn’t have the cap room; 2) Why would the Wild trade for someone it could potentially sign next summer anyway? 3) The Wild already sent Buffalo prospects Matt Hackett and Johan Larsson and a first- and second-round pick for Jason Pominville in April. Do you really want the Wild to singlehandedly stock the Sabres’ prospect pool?
Q: The Vanek trade has to come with a contract extension, right?
A: 1) No. 2) Yes, the Islanders really are that crazy.
Q: Shouldn’t the Islanders have traded for Sabres goalie Ryan Miller instead since goal-scoring isn’t their problem and stopping the puck is?
A: 1) Yes. 2) Yes, I already told you, the Islanders really are that crazy.
Q: Does this ruin the Wild’s chance of signing Vanek next summer?
A: It was by the 50th one of these Twitter questions that I realized we might have allowed the Vanek-to-Minnesota-in-2014 conjecture run a wee bit out of control.
In a large way, the media (OK, me) is to blame for this Vanek frenzy because we have talked incessantly about the Austrian sniper being destined for Minnesota in the same realm as Zach Parise and Ryan Suter coming to the Wild in 2012.
We have written about Vanek in the newspaper and blogs, talked about him on radio and TV. We’ve talked about the link with Pominville, Vanek’s buddy and linemate in Buffalo. We’ve reminded how Vanek starred at the U and trains at Mariucci during the summer. We’ve talked about how Vanek lives in Stillwater, and who wouldn’t want to raise their three boys in this wonderful state?
Plus, Vanek loves walleye and chicken wild rice soup. (OK, I made that up. But, it’s probably true).
We’ve even thrown out the price tag of what it would likely cost the Wild to sign Vanek — roughly six years, $40 million. The Wild would have that room next summer thanks to Dany Heatley’s $7.5 million conveniently coming off the books.
And we’ve pointed out over and over that the offensively impoverished Wild still lacks a pure goal scorer like Vanek, whose 254 goals since the start of 2005-06 are seventh-most in the NHL over that stretch.