Thomas Vanek Left $30 Million On The Table To Sign With Minnesota

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CBS – In a move that surprised absolutely no one in hockey, Thomas Vanek signed a three-year deal with the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday. The contract has a value of $19.5 million, or an annual average salary of $6.5 million for the Wild. That’s a bit of a hometown discount for Minnesota, where he played college hockey and met his wife, at least when talking about the term. Vanek was traded twice last season, first from Buffalo to the Islanders. The Isles wanted to keep him but Vanek rejected their reported seven-year deal for $50 million so the Islanders traded him to Montreal, where he finished out the season. In the end to sign with the Minnesota he had to take a lower term and a bit of a lower price as well. Wild GM Chuck Fletcher was open about not wanting to sign any long-term deals and keep the flexibility for the roster down the line.

Everyone on the planet knew that Thomas Vanek wanted to go back home to Minnesota, so this move doesn’t surprise me. And the annual salary is $6.5 million vs what would have been $7.15 mil from the Islanders. But holy fucking shit is it crazy to leave 30 million total on the table. Somehow its the smartest, dumbest, and most honorable free agent move all at the same time.

Smartest because, lets face it, the Islanders aren’t exactly the most desirable franchise to play for. There’s a good young core and Halak between the pipes makes a huge difference. And to be honest a guy like Vanek sticking around is what would take them to the next level. That JT-Okposo-Vanek line was one of the best in the NHL. But you can’t fault a guy who doesn’t wanna sign up long term with Garth Snow and Charles Wang. They’re track record is just about as bad as it fucking gets. I can’t begrudge anybody who says thanks but no thanks to those bozos.

Dumbest move because you’re leaving 30 goddam million dollars on the table. I honestly dont think the unions in the other leagues would allow a deal like this to happen. Thats just bad for the free agent market. Imagine if you’re comparable to Vanek and now all the sudden your offers are 4 years shorter and 30 million cheaper all because he wanted to go home? That would fucking suck. Players unions are in the business of getting every penny they can for their free agents and this dude saying no to 30 extra million does not help that cause.

Which brings me to why its the most honorable move to cap it all off. Not often you see athletes make their decision based on anything but money. But dude wanted to go home to his family. I mean its not like he’s playing for free. Still making 6.5 a year. I don’t want to canonize the guy as a saint, but its still a respectable move to leave that much money out there to go home.

PS – The Wang sale is looming, as is the move to Brooklyn. A guy like Vanek, like I said, can be the real difference between this team floundering as always, and becoming a contender. They are gonna need a stud free agent like him to take a chance on them at some point if they are ever going to capitalize on JT’s prime. But they did all the could in this situation. They made the big offer to try to land him. They just happened to do it to the guy with morals who’s fucking obsessed with “home”and his goddam “family.”