The Vancouver Canucks added another veteran player to their roster on Friday night when they signed Thomas Vanek to a one-year, $2 million contract.
It is not a move on its own that is going to push the Canucks back into playoff contention on its, but it is fine value in free agency for a veteran forward that still has some ability and could potentially be flipped at the deadline for another prospect or draft pick if the Canucks are out of it. In the short-term one area that he might be able to help the Canucks on the ice is adding a little bit more spark to a power play unit that has been one of the worst in the NHL the past two seasons.
“That’s one of my specialties,” Vanek said, via NHL.com on Friday night, shortly after the signing was announced. “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.”
Since the 2005-06 season only Alex Ovechkin has scored more power play goals than Vanek’s 129. He scored five this past season in only 68 games split between the Detroit Red Wings and Florida Panthers. That is a pretty far drop from what he used to be able to do during his peak seasons in Buffalo, but keep in mind there were only two Canucks players (Daniel Sedin with six and Loui Eriksson with five) that scored five power play goals this past season.
The Canucks finished with the second-worst power play unit in the league this past season, converting on only 14.1 percent of their chances. Only the Colorado Avalanche (12.6 percent) were worse. In 2015-16 the Canucks were 27th at 15.8 percent. Over the two years combined their 15 percent success rate has been the worst in the NHL. That has helped contribute to a team that has been one of the lowest scoring teams in the league (29th in goals for each year).
Vanek scored 17 goals to go with 31 assists in his 68 games this past season with the Red Wings and Panthers. On a per-game level his production was the highest it had been in four years.