Thomas Vanek, who has one year left of his contract worth $7.5 million (a $6.5 million salary-cap hit), hopes the Wild won’t buy him out.
“I do understand the business side of it,” the veteran winger said. “I’m not happy with my year, but at the same time, I truly still believe that I’m a 30-goal scorer in this league. I’ll worry about myself, have a good summer and be ready to go.
“I signed here not because this is where I live. I signed here because I truly love it here, and I want to win here.”
Vanek, 32, scored a career-low 18 goals in 74 games. His 41 points were his fewest in a non-lockout-shortened season. He missed four of the last five regular-season games and the playoffs because of broken and displaced ribs.
As long as he’s medically cleared by June 15 or 48 hours after the Stanley Cup Final (whichever is later), a buyout is permissible. General Manager Chuck Fletcher, who could use the extra cap space this offseason, will be available for comment Thursday.
“I’ve played through injuries and I’m OK, but this one was tough because you just can’t go,” Vanek said. “It’s one of those injuries where you feel good some days and all it needs is time, and time to heal.”
Chris Porter, Ryan Carter, Justin Fontaine, Jarret Stoll and David Jones can become unrestricted free agents if not re-signed by July 1.
“I thought I created a home here with the way I played,” Porter said. “It’s not the way we wanted to end, but on a personal level, it’s nice to come in and play every night. … In the playoffs, I felt like I made my mark. I want to be part of the solution moving forward. Hopefully that happens.”
Carter was disappointed to be scratched the final four games of the playoff series against Dallas. He knows his return could depend on who coaches the team.
“It’s probably a two-way street,” Carter said. “The coach probably has guys that maybe he wants. … I think that’s probably the first piece of the puzzle.”
Goalie Devan Dubnyk finally had X-rays Tuesday on his right index finger. It was broken during the morning skate before Game 1.
“It’s just rest now. Being that it’s the offseason, there’s no surgery,” Dubnyk said.
Backup goalie Darcy Kuemper, who had a contract dispute the last time he was a restricted free agent in the summer of 2014, hopes he’s not traded despite only playing 21 games.
“I want to play more than I played this year,” Kuemper said. “But I do like it here, so I hope to be a part of the group again.”
Zucker ‘wasn’t great’
Left winger Jason Zucker and defenseman Matt Dumba are the Wild’s other notable restricted free agents. Zucker had 13 goals and 23 points in 71 games, including two goals in his final 37 games including the playoffs.
“It wasn’t great, it wasn’t the way I wanted it to go and it needs to be a lot better,” Zucker said of his season. “I’m the first one to take full blame for that. It has nothing to do with the coaches, it has nothing to do with anything else but myself. I need to better next year, and I can promise you that will happen.”
Nino Niederreiter (Switzerland) and Jordan Schroeder (United States) will play in the world championships, which start May 6 in Russia.
“I’m excited. It’s a huge honor,” Schroeder said.
Finland has requested forwards Mikko Koivu, Mikael Granlund and Erik Haula. Koivu and Granlund still are deciding, while Haula is unable because of a groin injury.
Defenseman Jonas Brodin reportedly turned down Sweden because of an injury. It’s also believed defenseman Marco Scandella played with an abdominal injury in the playoffs.