Going home: Wild sign Vanek — three years, $19.5 million

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Thomas Vanek’s long-running desire to return home has come true.

The Minnesota Wild have signed the 30-year-old Austrian forward to a three-year, $19.5 million deal.

Vanek, a national championship winner with the Minnesota Golden Gophers, had long been considered the favorite to sign in Minnesota. Last season, the final year of his contract with the Buffalo Sabres, he was traded twice, winding up with the New York Islanders and then the Montreal Canadiens.

It was with Montreal some felt Vanek cost himself a big payday with a poor showing in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Now he’ll join a Wild team that made the second-round of the postseason and gave the Chicago Blackhawks a run for their money.

“I wasn’t afraid of going on a shorter term,” Vanek told TSN. “I feel like the team is going in the right direction.”

With Vanek joining Zach Parise, Mikko Koivu, Charlie Coyle, and Mikael Granlund they’ve got a dynamic group of offensive players. Considering the Western Conference is only getting more difficult to play in, he’ll help the Wild in a big way.