The Minnesota Wild have an uphill battle ahead of them and they’ll have to start that climb without Thomas Vanek.
The 32-year-old forward has missed the Wild’s last two games with an upper-body injury and it will be “more than a week” before he’s ready to rejoin the team, Wild coach John Torchetti told the Star Tribune’s Michael Russo.
In other words, Vanek has been ruled out for the Wild’s playoff opener and will likely miss more than just that one game.
If he does return before the end of Minnesota’s postseason run, it will be a chance for him to salvage what has been a disappointing campaign. Vanek will finish the regular season with 18 goals and 41 points in 74 games. That’s a long way from the offensive success he enjoyed prior to joining Minnesota and makes his three-year, $19.5 million contract look less desirable.
In addition to bouncing back from a less than ideal regular season, this is also a potential opportunity for Vanek to put his rough 2015 postseason behind him. He didn’t score a single goal during that run and finished with three assists and a minus-seven rating in 10 games.
So Vanek has plenty to prove and with the Wild set to play against Dallas or St. Louis, now would certainly be a good time to have a veteran forward like him step up. Unfortunately his injury has put that possibility on hold.