Skip to main content
The Official Site of the Detroit Red Wings

By the Numbers: Thomas Vanek

Candid veteran forward provided leadership to Detroit's youthful core

by Arthur J. Regner @ArthurJRegner / DetroitRedWings.com

By the Numbers will highlight the Red Wings' on-ice accomplishments in the 2018-19 season. Each week during the offseason, By the Numbers will profile a different player on the team, focusing on his statistical highs. This week we focus on left wing Thomas Vanek.

During his second stint with the Red Wings, Thomas Vanek was exactly what the Wings were expecting from the veteran forward when they signed him to a one-year deal as an unrestricted free agent last July.

A quality player who commands respect because of his playmaking prowess and his calm and insightful guidance in the dressing room, Vanek has endeared himself to his teammates and Detroit's management since he first signed with the Wings as an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2016.

Though he would be traded to Florida on March 1, 2017, for defenseman Dylan McIlrath and a third-round pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft (Kasper Kotkansalo), Vanek was never far from Detroit's radar.

Vanek liked playing for the Red Wings and bonded quickly with many of his teammates in 2016, especially Andreas Athanasiou.

But it had to make sense to sign him for a second time, and with Detroit in a retooling mode, Vanek appealed to the Wings not only for his skill level, but his ability to teach the young Red Wings the work habits that are essential in becoming a good pro.

Unfortunately, injuries hampered Vanek's production last season. He missed Detroit's last seven games with a finger injury and his future with the Wings appears to be tenuous.

At locker clean-out day, Vanek told reporters he still had "something in the tank" and he's convinced he can still score "20-plus" goals in the NHL. He also indicated he'll keep the lines of communication open with the Red Wings before and after he hits the open market on July 1.

Whether the Wings pursue Vanek falls into the hands of new general manager Steve Yzerman.

Depending on which direction Yzerman goes with Vanek, it could be a clear barometer of where Detroit's new GM believes the organization is in their retooling process.

Should the Red Wings give a roster spot to a well-liked, influential veteran whom Detroit's youthful core responds to or is it time to turn the page and allow several of the Red Wings' high-end forward prospects to slug it out and earn roster spots during training camp?

The door is still open for Vanek to return to the Wings, we just don't know how open.

64 - Total games the 14-year veteran played this season due to injuries. It is the lowest number of games he's played in a single season during his career, excluding the 2012-13 season, which was only 48 games because of the NHL lockout.

18 - Games Vanek missed because of injury. His 18 man-games lost tied him with rookie Michael Rasmussen for sixth-most on the team. Defenseman Mike Green led the Wings in man-games lost with 39.

16 - Vanek's goal total, which was the lowest of his career. His 16 goals were tied for fifth-best on the Wings with former forward Gustav Nyquist, who notched 16 with Detroit before he was dealt to the San Jose Sharks at the trade deadline.

20 - His 20 assists were also a career low and ranked ninth overall on the Red Wings. Dylan Larkin was Detroit's assist leader with 41.

36 - Vanek's 36 points was the lowest of his career, but on a team that struggled offensively, his point total was sixth-highest on the Wings. Larkin led the Red Wings in points with 74, followed by Athanasiou with 54 and Anthony Mantha with 47.

-12 - The Red Wings had very few plus players last season. Vanek's minus-12 was the fourth-highest on the Wings. Detroit rookie defenseman Dennis Cholowski was the Wings' highest minus player at minus-20.

14:06 - Vanek's ice time average per game. Over the span of his 14-year career, his ice time average is 16:18.

4 - Goals Vanek notched on the power play, which was third-best on the team. Larkin and Mantha led Detroit with seven power-play goals apiece.

11 - His 11 power-play points were tied for third on the Wings with Athanasiou. Larkin was Detroit's power-play points leader with 15, and was Mantha second with 13.

400 - On Nov. 23 in a game at Washington, Vanek doled out his 400th career assist on Athanasiou's first-period goal in the Red Wings' 3-1 loss to the Capitals.

1,000 - Vanek became the first Austrian-born player to play 1,000 NHL games. He achieved this historic milestone on Jan. 4 against the Nashville Predators at Little Caesars Arena. In 16:04 of ice time, he scored a goal, registered three shots and was even in the Wings' 4-3 overtime victory over the Predators. In 1,029 career games, Vanek has 789 points (373-416-789), is plus-6 with an ice time average of 16:18. He has 56 game-winning goals.

View More