Every team has a couple of those players that are perennial thorns in their side, the guys who always seem to kill you when the game is on the line.
For the Bruins, that role has been filled for the better part of a decade, by one guy:
Yes, Thomas Vanek, the Sabre turned Islander turned Canadien turned everything else he’s done since then.
Vanek has scored 333 goals in his NHL career, twice potting 40 or above. He’s scored 697 total points. 66 of those points (and 32 of the goals) were scored against the Bruins, producing at a 1.08 PPG pace in all games against the black and gold.
It’s true that Vanek may not be the guy he was when he was terrorizing the Bruins as a Sabre, but he’s still got some juice left in the tank. He had 48 points in 68 games last season, split between the Red Wings and the Panthers.
His 17 goals would have been tied for 5th on the Bruins last year.
How would Thomas Vanek help the Bruins?
He’s a productive wing, something the Bruins almost completely lacked outside of David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand.
Vanek is a left wing, but he can play both sides.
Breaking up Marchand and Patrice Bergeron would be nuts, so slot Vanek in alongside David Krejci or whoever becomes your third-line center. Or the Bruins could put him on the right side of that third-line center and give Jake DeBrusk his shot on the left, then bump Matt Beleskey down to the fourth line or to press box duty.
Vanek is a (admittedly, at a lesser level than he once was) a scorer, and that’s something the Bruins need. He’s got a wicked shot and a knack for finding the back of the net.
He’s also excellent on the power play, averaging more than 10 power play goals per season over the course of his career.
Why shouldn’t the Bruins sign Vanek?
The main reason is that the Bruins already have a bunch of wings, and that he’d probably end up taking a spot from a young guy the Bruins are trying to break into the line-up.
Looking at left wing, the Bruins already have Brad Marchand (lock), Frank Vatrano (lock) and Matt Beleskey (eh) available for top-3 roles. Throw in guys like Jake DeBrusk, who has earned a shot, and Anders Bjork, who’s more likely to play at wing than center as a pro (though he could fill that 3C role if Ryan Spooner is outta here), and all of a sudden there’s not much room.
Salary cap concerns must be taken into consideration as well, though it’s unlikely Vankek would command a huge number.
The main drawback is decreased playing time for the kids, and whether or not Vanek’s potential production outweighs those drawbacks.
How much would Vanek cost the Bruins?
Vanek signed a one-year deal with Detroit last summer, to the tune of $2.6 million. It’s hard to imagine he’d command a mega raise this season.
He could probably be added for a one-year deal in the $2.2 to $2.5 million range.