Thomas Vanek was traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets by the Vancouver Canucks on Monday for forwards Jussi Jokinen and Tyler Motte.
"I don't know the ins and outs, but they're a very good team," Vanek said. "They've shown that the past couple of years. For me, it's the goaltending and [Sergei Bobrovsky] has gotten them to the playoffs a couple of times. That's what excites the most."
Vanek, 34, signed a one-year, $2 million contract with the Canucks on Sept. 1, 2017 and can become an unrestricted free agent July 1. He has 41 points (17 goals, 24 assists) in 61 games this season.
"We would have preferred getting picks back. That wasn't available to us," Vancouver general manager Jim Benning said. "We think we did the next best thing by getting a good young player that our scouts like."
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It's the second straight season Vanek has been traded on the day of the deadline; he was acquired by the Florida Panthers from the Detroit Red Wings on March 1, 2017.
"When you look at Thomas Vanek, what ends up happening is teams that are real good, their top six forwards are established players that are scoring for them," Benning said. "Thomas is excellent on the power play and he can score, so I don't know whether it was his age or a specific need for teams, but Columbus is a great fit for him. They need help on their power play and he can go in there and do that for them."
A two-time 40-goal scorer, Vanek, selected by the Buffalo Sabres with the No. 5 pick in the 2003 NHL Draft, has 738 points (350 goals, 388 assists) in 946 games during 13 NHL seasons with the Canucks, Panthers, Red Wings, Minnesota Wild, Montreal Canadiens, New York Islanders and Sabres. He has 34 points (20 goals, 14 assists) in 63 Stanley Cup Playoff games.
"I'm going to play my game," Vanek said. "I've felt really good the whole year. I feel like I can still score goals. The main thing is to come in, get some chemistry with somebody and get some wins."
Jokinen, 34, has seven points (one goal, six assists) in 46 games this season with the Blue Jackets, Los Angeles Kings and Edmonton Oilers. He signed a one-year contract with the Oilers prior to the season and was traded to the Kings on Nov. 17. Jokinen had five points in 18 games with them before he was placed on waivers and claimed by the Blue Jackets on Jan. 17.
Jokinen has 553 points (187 goals, 366 assists) in 937 NHL games (13 seasons).
Video: Blue Jackets acquire Vanek, Cole
Motte, 22, has five points (three goals, two assists) in 31 games this season and 12 points (seven goals, five assists) in 64 NHL games. Vancouver earlier Monday acquired forward Brendan Leipsic in a trade with the Vegas Golden Knights for defenseman Philip Holm.
"Going forward we want to be younger, faster. We want to be harder to play against," Benning said. "I think with both Brendan and Tyler, they fit the mold of speed, skill and they are competitive guys. They are guys that aren't maybe the biggest guys but they are hard in the battle. They are going to add to our competitive group of young players that we have. As we go forward, we are going to continue to get younger and faster and more skilled."
The Blue Jackets (31-26-5), who host the Washington Capitals on Monday (7 p.m. ET; SN, FS-O, NBCSWA, NHL.TV), hold the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the Eastern Conference, two points ahead of the New York Islanders.
The Canucks (24-31-7), who visit the Colorado Avalanche on Monday (9 p.m. ET; ALT, SNP, NHL.TV), are 18 points behind the Calgary Flames for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference.
"We tried hard here," Benning said. "I had conversations with every team in the League. We would have liked to add more picks now. That didn't happen but that still could happen before the draft this year."