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Vanek talks homecoming, Wild's chances on NHL Live

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Minnesota Wild forward Thomas Vanek was a guest on NHL Live via Arena Cam to discuss playing close to his home in Stillwater, Minn., the look of the team and competing in the tough Western Conference.

Vanek, who played college hockey at the University of Minnesota, signed a three-year, $19.5 million contract with the Wild on July 1 after he was twice traded last season.

"It's been good," Vanek said. "Obviously it's another transition for me but as with every other team, especially in hockey, I think there's been so many good guys, so it's been easy to get to know everyone and it's been fun on the ice."

Vanek had 21 goals and 68 points in 78 games last season with the Buffalo Sabres, New York Islanders and Montreal Canadiens. The Wild are counting on Vanek, a two-time 40-goal scorer, to provide a boost to an offense that finished 24th in the League with 2.43 goals per game.

"I didn't want to just come here because this is my home in the offseason," Vanek said. "I wanted to come and join a team that has good depth, which I believe we have. Hopefully I can add to that. What I like about this team is that we have good old veterans; to win in this League you need older guys. And the young guys are great. You look at Charlie Coyle, [Mikael] Granlund, the list goes on. I think we have a great mix."

Vanek and the Wild open the regular season Oct. 9 against the Colorado Avalanche, who they eliminated in the Western Conference First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season, at Xcel Energy Center.

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