Thomas Vanek’s struggles this season are well documented — just one goal in 17 games — and on Thursday, Wild head coach Mike Yeo said it’s time to get Vanek on track by playing him on a line with Charlie Coyle.
“We have to get him [Vanek] going,” Yeo said, per NHL.com. “Skill guys have to play with skill players. I think we’ve talked a lot this year about how with Charlie we think there’s another level to his game.”
The full line will be Coyle centering Vanek and Jason Zucker. While part of this story is about the guy in the middle (Yeo has frequently used Coyle to spark various lines and players this season), the majority of it’s about Vanek, who has failed to produce after scoring a three-year, $19.5 million deal this summer.
In fact, Vanek’s made more noise off ice than on it. Earlier this month, his name re-surfaced in an investigation into a Western New York sports gambling ring — Vanek later admitted he’d participated (though he didn’t bet on hockey) and was “not proud of the decisions I’ve made.”
The Wild really need to get Vanek going, especially on the power play. The unit ranks 28th in the NHL at a lousy 9.3 percent; an in-form Vanek, who once led the NHL in man-advantage goals (20 in ’08-09), would be a big boon.