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Vanek signs one-year contract with Canucks

33-year-old forward gets $2 million to join seventh team in NHL career

by Kevin Woodley / NHL.com Correspondent

Thomas Vanek signed a one-year, $2 million contract with the Vancouver Canucks on Friday.

The 33-year-old forward had 48 points (17 goals, 31 assists) in 68 games for the Florida Panthers and Detroit Red Wings last season.

Vanek, who scored at least 20 goals each of his first 10 NHL seasons before he had 18 in 74 games for the Minnesota Wild in 2015-16, will be counted on to help the Canucks improve offensively after they finished 29th in the League in scoring last season (2.17 goals per game).

 

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"Looking at the team, they are obviously not where they wanted to be last year, but I think you can grow fairly quickly in this league and talking with [first-year coach] Travis Green and [general manager Jim] Benning, they wanted to come in and have someone help out scoring goals, and it just seemed like a really good fit for me," he said.

Vanek scored five power-play goals last season, and his 129 since entering the League in 2005-06 are second-most behind Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals (212). The Canucks had the worst power play in the NHL over the past two seasons (15.0 percent).

"That's one of my specialties," Vanek said. "I think I am still very good in front of the net and tipping pucks and reading other players and finding that open space, so it's definitely in my mindset to come in there and work for that power-play time."

Vancouver was 30-43-9 last season, finishing 25 points behind the Nashville Predators for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference.

"Thomas has been a prolific scorer throughout his career and we're excited to add his offense and experience to help with the continued growth of our forwards," Benning said. "His skill and ability to contribute on the score sheet, combined with his lead-by-example style will help our team this year, and will benefit our younger players as they continue to develop their game."

Video: NYR@FLA: Vanek scores his first goal as a Panther

Forwards Henrik Sedin and Daniel Sedin each is entering the final season of a four-year contract. The twin brothers, who turn 37 on Sept. 26, have played their entire NHL career for the Canucks.

Vancouver signed centers Sam Gagner and Alexander Burmistrov, defensemen Michael Del Zotto and Patrick Wiercioch, and goalie Anders Nilsson as free agents July 1. Center Bo Horvat, 22, remains a restricted free agent after he led the Canucks with 52 points (20 goals, 32 assists) last season.

Vanek said he began discussing a contract with Vancouver a few weeks ago. He signed a one-year contract with Detroit on July 1, 2016, and was traded to Florida on March 1.

"After you don't go that first week or the first couple days, I knew it was going to be a longer summer," he said, "but at the same time I wasn't worried about it. I knew what I could do and what I could bring, and in fact, if anything, training harder to prove people wrong. I still feel like I can have a lot of years left and score many goals."

Vanek has gotten to know Vancouver forward prospect Brock Boeser, who had four goals and one assist in nine games after making his NHL debut at the end of 2016-17.

"Brock is awesome. I am not going to say that I know him inside and out, but I skated with him quite a bit this summer and told him this morning, 'You know I might be joining you,' and he seemed fairly excited," Vanek said of the Canucks' first-round pick (No. 23) at the 2015 NHL Draft. "Who knows what that means, but he's a great kid. What I like about him is even in summer hockey or shinny hockey, if you tell him a little tip here or there, he is the type of kid who will listen and doesn't just shake his head and say, 'I know it better anyways.' He's very impressive."

Selected in the first round (No. 5) by the Buffalo Sabres in the 2003 NHL Draft, Vanek has 697 points (333 goals, 364 assists) in 885 games for the Panthers, Red Wings, Wild, Sabres, Montreal Canadiens and New York Islanders. He has 34 points (20 goals, 14 assists) in 63 Stanley Cup Playoff games.

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