The newest member of the Minnesota Wild met with the media today. Check out some of Thomas Vanek’s best quotes from the press conference, as well quotes from Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher and Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo.
Vanek on signing with the Wild:
I think what intrigued me the most would be, obviously, with Zach signing here and Suter signing here, this team is getting really good and is very good. About a year ago when I made my decision to go into free agency, this was definitely a team I had in mind then. For it to come true today … I’m extremely thrilled to be a part of the Wild and have a group like this. I’m just happy.
Vanek on coming to Minnesota:
It’s awesome. The best thing is my career was winning an NCAA Championship with the Gophers. To be a part of the Wild now and go after the big prize, having a chance to do it here in Minnesota is beyond my wildest dreams.
Vanek on the best sales pitch:
I didn’t need much of a sales pitch. I’m friends with them (Jason Pominville and Keith Ballard). They just all told me how much of a good team this is with good guys; that’s important to hear. I remember when Pommer first got traded here … I told him, you’ll like it there, there’s a lot of good fans. After a week or so he called me said "you were right, I like it here a lot."
Fletcher on Vanek and scoring goals:
This guy has been a premier scorer since he’s entered the league. He still managed to have 68 points this year despite playing in three cities. What we were really looking for, as much as anything, we really wanted a right shot. We really wanted somebody that could play with top players and we wanted somebody that could help our power play. I’ve spoken about it a lot since the end of the year, we’re a team that prides itself on our defensive structure, we feel we can defend, but we only scored 2.4 goals per game and with Thomas maybe that pushes us closer to 2.6 or 2.7 or whatever the number is — maybe some nights we have a little bit more breathing room. … Scoring goals is a big part of winning games and he’s a game breaker. The things he does well are things that we need. I don’t think we can overlook that.
Fletcher on Vanek’s deal:
Thomas may be one of the only players to take a pay cut and a term cut to come anywhere. Everybody else is doubling and tripling their salary. Good for the players, but it’s maybe not the market we want to be in right now.
Fletcher on the momentum created from the Ryan Suter and Zach Parise signings:
It even started before then with Mikko. People forget, at the time we weren’t a very good hockey team and Mikko signed a long-term deal with our team the year prior to becoming a UFA. I’ve said it a few times, that was our flag in the ground. I really believe that if we had lost Mikko at that point, we would be competing for top-five picks right now. We would be in the bottom and we wouldn’t have anybody. Zach and Ryan came here in part because there was a big player like Mikko. I think Pominville elected to stay here because of the players that were here prior to him. And now, obviously, Thomas. It’s a great marketplace. We have a great fanbase. I think ownership has stepped up again and again to show that commitment to winning. I think the players see that. But, it takes good players to get good players and we’re starting to get some pretty good players here.
Fletcher on seeing a lot of big names move to the West:
It’s pretty daunting looking at the TSN scroll this morning, seeing every single player went to the West. It seemed like every single player came to our division. It’s only going to get more difficult to make the playoffs. We’re going to have our hands full to make the playoffs next year. Once again, anything can happen, but it’s just a battle to get in and I think we recognize that and the coaches recognize that — we’re excited about the challenge.
Yeo on the Wild’s skill:
Over the last couple years year here we’ve upgraded the skill of our top two lines. With that, I think it’s important to have interchangeable parts. He’s a guy who’s played some right wing but he’s played more on the left side. How we piece our lines together, we’re not sure on that. In training camp we’re going to try a couple different scenarios and see how they play out.
Yeo on adding Vanek:
When you can add players personnel-wise that bring that kind of skill, that kind of creativity and that kind of ability, that’s going to increase the scoring. It’s not just about that player; it’s about what they do for the players that they’re playing with as well. There’s been games where players need five or six chances to score a goal, there’s other players that might need two or three. Thomas is certainly one of those guys that can capitalize on those opportunities.
Yeo on the added depth:
When you do something like this and obviously it’s going to make your first and second lines stronger but what you have to take into consideration is by doing this, you’re also making your third line stronger. I think that’s what really important for us here.