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I don't know if I'd say Vanek's play was dropping off so much as the teams he was playing for saw a large drop-off in talent. When Vanek first broke in, Buffalo had some decent scoring ability, but in the last couple of years he played there, they were a bottom feeder with very little depth. It allowed teams to target him pretty heavily.

If you look at Vanek's stint with the Isles, he has only 1 goal and 2 assists in his first 6 games as he gets adjusted. He then put up 41 points in 41 games, including 16 goals (a 32-goal and 82-point pace for a full season). If you look at last year in Buffalo, he put up 20 goals in 38 games, which would have been about 42-43 goals over an 82 game season. And yes, you can wonder whether he would have maintained that pace over 82 games, but many people have also questioned PK's Norris trophy for the same reason and that's a bit of a cop-out. You can't say Vanek's play dropped off, when last season was the second best season of his career in terms of point production per ice time. His '11-'12 year was a bit of a drop-off, but he still managed to put up 26 goals and 61 points despite a shooting % below his career average and despite playing on a very average team with a weak supporting cast. You can see this season as another drop-off, but I'd argue he's still on track to score 25 goals despite being traded twice and clearly having his worst two stretches of the year in the 5-6 games following the trades. Take out those stretches and he's had a very respectable season.

Would I rather have a Hossa or Datsyuk at age 30? Yes. But as I said, I just don't think you get too many chances to acquire or hold on to guys who have been 40-goal scorers twice in their careers at age 30. As for the likes of Jagr, Iginla, Robitaille and so on, I'll reiterate the same point because I think it's being missed: yes, those players were better overall players earlier in their careers, but if we're talking purely about their years from 30-37, these weren't guys who were being retained because of their defensive skill or toughness. They were being paid to put the puck in the net, and in that respect, Vanek is in the same league at scoring goals as those other guys. I think IN TERMS OF GOAL SCORING, Vanek is closer to the lies of Marleau and Iginla and Sedin and so on than he is to players like Gomez, Gionta, etc. And when you look at goal scorers of Vanek's ilk, those players for the most part tend to maintain their productivity through the first half of their 30s.

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The other thing I'll add in is this: look at the core of forwards that will likely be around here over the next 5 years in your top 9... Galchenyuk and Eller possibly as your #1 and #2 centers, Pacioretty and Bournival on the LW, Gallagher on the right. There's room here for a 6'2" winger who can score goals. The AHL is pretty dry right now in terms of scoring wingers, so our best hopes are probably 3-4 years away from being to play in the NHL, never mind the top 6.

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If you look at Vanek's stint with the Isles, he has only 1 goal and 2 assists in his first 6 games as he gets adjusted. He then put up 41 points in 41 games, including 16 goals (a 32-goal and 82-point pace for a full season). If you look at last year in Buffalo, he put up 20 goals in 38 games, which would have been about 42-43 goals over an 82 game season. And yes, you can wonder whether he would have maintained that pace over 82 games, but many people have also questioned PK's Norris trophy for the same reason and that's a bit of a cop-out. You can't say Vanek's play dropped off, when last season was the second best season of his career in terms of point production per ice time. His '11-'12 year was a bit of a drop-off, but he still managed to put up 26 goals and 61 points despite a shooting % below his career average and despite playing on a very average team with a weak supporting cast. You can see this season as another drop-off, but I'd argue he's still on track to score 25 goals despite being traded twice and clearly having his worst two stretches of the year in the 5-6 games following the trades. Take out thosestretches and he's had a very respectable season.

It's not a cop out at all, it's no disrespect to the players but there's natural ebbs and flows over 82 games and the smaller the sample, the more room there is for weird randomness. If you looked at stats after 48 games this year and again after 82 you'd see a massive amount of movement. It doesn't discredit what he did in that season, it's just obviously different. Same for PK. Vanek started the lockout shortened season with 23 points in 12 games, he looked like an MVP candidate and the was much, much less productive the rest of the way. Again, ebbs and flows. I definitely factor it in but I'm more interested in his full season production the last 2 years.

He played on an absolutely great, high scoring line in New York. He was actually the least productive player on the line behind Okposo and Tavares. He produced well though.

Here's the thing, he's not a great possession player, other than on the Islanders he's NEVER been a guy who plays 20+ minutes a night, his SH% and production have gone down as he's gotten older save 38 games last year. Comping handpicked guys notwithstanding, this is a risky player to commit to. Take away the lockout shortened year and the only season with production close to what you're projecting for the next few years was 10-11 with 72 points and 32 goals. The year before that he had 53 points, the year after 61, this year he's on pace for a year similar to that again. I'm not sure why you're so confident at 30 he's more than a 25-30 goal 65 point guy when in the last 5 years he's produced above that level for 1.5 seasons.

I'm not interested in paying him for his production from 2006-2009. I think giving him 7-7.5 million dollars is questionable value right now given his all around game and production.

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Would I rather have a Hossa or Datsyuk at age 30? Yes. But as I said, I just don't think you get too many chances to acquire or hold on to guys who have been 40-goal scorers twice in their careers at age 30. As for the likes of Jagr, Iginla, Robitaille and so on, I'll reiterate the same point because I think it's being missed: yes, those players were better overall players earlier in their careers, but if we're talking purely about their years from 30-37, these weren't guys who were being retained because of their defensive skill or toughness. They were being paid to put the puck in the net, and in that respect, Vanek is in the same league at scoring goals as those other guys. I think IN TERMS OF GOAL SCORING, Vanek is closer to the lies of Marleau and Iginla and Sedin and so on than he is to players like Gomez, Gionta, etc. And when you look at goal scorers of Vanek's ilk, those players for the most part tend to maintain their productivity through the first half of their 30s.

They may not have been retained because of their defensive skill or toughness but they were better than 20+ minute studs in their prime and basically declined in their 30's into what Vanek has been the last few years, a 17-18 minute, pure offensive player. I mean, I'll be honest some of these comps feels like major reaches. Jagr and Iginla were superstar, Hart Trophy candidate caliber players. Even with decline they were probably better in their early 30s than Vanek was in his prime. The better you are, the more room you have to decline and still be great. If we find players who produced similar to Vanek the last 3-4 years and looked how they aged, I'd be more interested. The other thing is, Robitaille turned 30 almost 20 years ago, Jagr was 12 years ago. Are these really the best comps we can find?

And you say goalscorers of Vanek's ilk tend to maintain their productivity through the first half of their 30's. Not that I doubt you, but is there any evidence of that? Vanek's already seen a drop in production and SH% and I'm concerned based on his style and lack of ANY other kind of value it could deteriorate further relatively shortly.

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I don't know if I'd say Vanek's play was dropping off so much as the teams he was playing for saw a large drop-off in talent. When Vanek first broke in, Buffalo had some decent scoring ability, but in the last couple of years he played there, they were a bottom feeder with very little depth. It allowed teams to target him pretty heavily.

Since Vanek's last 40 goal season Buffalo has finished in the top 10 in the NHL in goals for twice, the Islanders are 15th and the other 2 years Buffalo was 17th and 23rd. So the only year he played on a bottom 10 offensive team was the lockout shortened 2013 season. Not like he's played on horrible offensive teams by any stretch. If anything it would suggest it's possible his early season was helped by playing on one of the best offensive teams in the NHL. To be honest, the Habs teams he would play on next year and the year after maybe among the worst offensive teams he'd play on the last few years.

To be clear though, I'm not anti Vanek and I'm not DEAD SET against signing him, but the value is already questionable IMO and the term will be scary. I don't view him as a core guy heading into his 30's and I don't know that I want to commit 7+ years and 50+ million to a one dimensional, 30+ year old guy who's production even in the short term have a high potential for variance.

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There's definitely more room for luck to play a role in a smaller sample size, but on the other hand, you can't simply discount 20 goals in 38 games either. Even if he only scores 10 goals in the other 44 games, he still ends up being a 30-goal scorer for that season. I really don't think that's an unreasonable expectation to have had. If you want a bigger sample size, tack on the 60 games from Buf/NY onto his 38 from last year, and you have a player who scored 41 goals and 94 points in 98 games. Again, tack on the fact that he's had two adjustment periods to deal with in the past few months, and I see his recent production as being more than acceptable. Goal scorers as a rule tend to be a bit streaky and score in bunches (just look at Max Pacioretty or Alex Kovalev, the last two true 1st-line goal scorers we've had here), so I think putting up with some ebb and flow is just part of the process.

As far as finding recent comparables, it's just really difficult because there aren't a lot of guys who have matched his goal totals over the past few years, and if we're talking about looking at guys who have already played through the 30-37 year-old age range (since that's the period we're looking at), you have to look at guys who are by definition at least 7-8 years older than him to use those examples. If we look at contemporaries from his own draft year, the player closest to his own production in terms of goals and points is Corey Perry. Jeff Carter and Eric Staal have pretty similar goal totals, and Zach Parise is just a touch behind that group (the same Zach Parise who recently signed for 13 years and a cap hit of over 7.5M. Take off the three bogus years at the end of the deal and it's 10 years at a 9.4M cap hit, taking him close to the age of 40). Now I'm not advocating doing the same with Vanek, but someone is going to give him 7M a year for 7 years on the open market. That's just the going rate for a player of his ilk. If you wanted to sign Perry (who I think is a better player than Vanek) or Carter (who I think is more comparable in terms of overall value), it would also likely cost you that amount. I personally feel like Vanek's play is less likely to fall off than Carter's, even though I think Carter provides a little more outside of just scoring points. If you look at a player like Teemu Selanne, well known to be a sniper with little defensive ability early in his career (and whose early career was played in an era where offence was more rampant), he put up a season of 26 goals in the season in which he turned 30. Following this, he potted 29, 28, and 16 goals but then came storming back with 40 and 48 goal seasons. And yes, this might be cherry-picking one player, but it does show that players can appear to be tailing off a bit and then sill be extremely productive in their 30s. The fact that Vanek "only" put up 25-30 goals in a couple of seasons just isn't that much of a drop-off that I'm concerned. I can understand that you might feel differently, but I'd project Vanek to still have top 6 value for another 5 years, and I'm willing to pay for something I don't think we'll be able to find elsewhere over that period of time. As I said, I'll pay the extra 3M for a player if it means an upgrade from Bourque or Gionta. Right now, 4M gets you Derek Roy or Olli Jokinen or Erik Cole or Daniel Briere. As I said, I'll take Vanek + Leblanc over any two of those 4M players, and that's if we can even attract two 4M players to come and play here. I'd prefer to build up a nice top 6 and work from there rather than continue to stockpile mid-range players and have them each play 12-15 minutes a night.

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One thing I want to emphasize that roy_133 already said: if we sign Vanek to a long-term contract, we're essentially buying up his '30s based on production from 2006 through 2009. That's not a good hockey move to me. If the opportunity comes to add a guy like Vanek with acceptable term, I think you do it, because you're not overpaying and if he can regain his form, you're getting great cap value. But to pay him assuming he'll be that guy through most of a seven-year contract? The odds are not in our favour and as others have said, Vanek is just not a good enough player to warrant that kind of risk.

IMO you go 6+ years on core franchise players, not risk/reward types. I'd still be nervous in the fourth and fifth years of any contract we gave Vanek, but I can live with five years. Six or seven? That's too much risk for not enough reward.

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And it's fair to point out that Vanek's best years came 3-4 years ago, but I still believe he's a guy who can score 30 a year, and I think that's where my assessment differs from yours and roy's. He's by no means going to be as good a value as a player like Pacioretty or Galchenyuk or Gallagher that you bring up in your own system, but as a UFA pick-up (which is what he'd essentially be even if he's playing here now), he'd pretty much be market value to go 7 years at 7M per. If we had a deep pool of top 6 talent coming up through the ranks, I'd be more willing to pass on Vanek, but when you look at proven goal-scoring wingers on our roster right now, you have Pacioretty and that's about all. Gallagher and Galchenyuk both have about 100 games of NHL experience, and the other guys we've been using as top 6 wingers (Gio, Bourque, Briere) are all reaching their best before date. None of those guys is going to be here in a top 6 role in two years and looking at Hamilton, I have a hard time picking out a guy who'll make a top 6 forward period. You start to go down the list of prospects and we do have guys like De La Rose, McCarron, and so on, but there's no guarantee those players will make the NHL either, much less that they'll be top 6 players within the next 3-4 years.

So any way you cut it, I see us having to make a pitch for a top 6 guy via free agency or trade. The question is whether you think we can do better than Vanek in terms of talent and in terms of value. First, true goal scorers rarely hit the market. Second, it's difficult to even attract top-end talent to join your team. When's the last time a top-tier free agent chose to come here? Cammalleri is probably one, and he wasn't quite as good as Vanek. But since Cammalleri's departure, we've been in need of a sniper (something I've heard many people here say). Now we have one. I just don't think you're going to find a better goal-scorer for a better price/term. If there's a guy who's comparable who hits the market, he'll also be offered a similar term/salary by someone else. Otherwise, yes, we could go ahead with a lesser player for a better contract, but we're not going to get the same quality of results. I'm fully with you guys that there's going to be risk and that there's going to be some degree of over-payment for the last couple of years of his contract. But if I'm GM, I'm aiming to win a Cup in the next 2-3 years with my young core, and Vanek helps me to achieve that goal. Risk and overpayment are just part of what goes into bidding for higher-tier free agents, and I'd rather be overpaying a bit for a top-line player than for role players the way we have been doing to date.

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I get what you guys are saying and I don't think that signing a guy to big money until he's is his late 30s is a perfect move. But my overriding point is that if we only made perfect moves our team would currently consist of the guys that we drafted, Josh Gorges and a bunch of fourth-liners signed to one-year contracts because we couldn't find enough perfect moves to fill up the rest of the roster.

We need a scorer. It's really a weakness on this team - we haven't had a guy in the sniper mold since Cammy was traded (although Patches has come a long way). We've been talking about comparable players and Vanek's past seasons and all that, but our team isn't being built in a vacuum. It's not just a matter of paying $x for a guy whose production projects to be y. We need what Vanek has, even if it's a Vanek who's not as good as he used to be and even if it's a Vanek who's overpaid.

In order for this signing to be a net positive we don't actually need Vanek to score 40 goals a year or even to live up to his contract, as weird as that sounds. Like Ted said, all we need is for the combination of Vanek + LeBlanc/Dumont/Cheap-Call-Up-#3 to be better than the combination of whatever two $3.5M-$4M players we are going to realistically be paying otherwise. And I say realistically because, honestly, it's not like the alternative to Vanek is going to be two guys living up to their own contracts, mot more likely other UFA signings who themselves are overpaid. Even if we want to look on the bright side then we're looking at a combination of guys like, say, Gionta and Prust.

That's just how the UFA market works - you need to give a lot to get anything of value. In this case I think it's worth it to give him term if he wants it, even if it does end up costing us in the last few years. We worked around other big contracts (Gomez), we could work around this one too.

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It's hard to ever love a contract that pays someone $7M into their late 30s. In Vanek's case, I'd lean towards making it happen if it's possible though. He's about as proven a goal scorer as you'll find. In his 8 seasons in this league he's scored at least 25 goals in every season except last year (but I think 20 goals in 38 games makes it safe to say the streak would have been kept intact). He's never played less than 70 games (obviously again last year bein the exception).

With him and Patches in the line-up you'd have a pair of guys who are going to average around 30+ goals every year for probably the next 5-6 years. And that's only to help as Galchenyuk keeps developping.

Having said all of this, he does seem really set on making it to July 1st. If he's dead set on that and we really feel he wants Minny, as I've said before I would be seeing about swapping rights with Chuck Fletcher to talk to Moulson.

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if we only made perfect moves our team would currently consist of the guys that we drafted, Josh Gorges and a bunch of fourth-liners signed to one-year contracts because we couldn't find enough perfect moves to fill up the rest of the roster.

Have to disagree with you here, Manatee. First of all, making a good move shouldn't mean being perfect all the time. We're not nitpicking a decision to waive an AHL callup making minimum wage. We're talking about whether to go all-in on a guy whose production seems to be in decline, to the tune of seven or eight years, paying him top dollar well into his '30s. That is a decision that good teams think long and hard about and land on the right side of more often than not.

Second, the Gorges example is inapt, because it's actually an example of a poor contract we gave out to an overrated fringe-top-four d-man based on one good season he had playing with ... eventual Norris-Trophy-winning P.K. Subban.

Third, I'd flip that argument on its head. You suggest a worse-case scenario if we only made "perfect" moves, but if we only made good moves, maybe we wouldn't have traded a stud D prospect to acquire Scott Gomez, whom we were later forced to buy out. Maybe we wouldn't be stuck with Brian Gionta in year 5 of a contract we knew was going to be an albatross at precisely that time. Maybe we could have used the money we spent on Daniel Briere to address an urgent need on defense. Maybe we wouldn't be looking at four more years of Alexei Emelin because we inexplicably handed him an extension without checking to see if he could be the same player post-injury. Maybe we wouldn't be stuck with Rene Bourque and his endless contract and would instead have an extra goalscorer (Cammalleri) entering the final year of his contract.

Given the resources we have as a franchise and enormous, bloated management team Bergevin assembled, we have every right to expect good moves. Not perfection -- just good franchise management.

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Guest habs1952

Vanek's play is without effort when the Habs don't have the puck. That should be worth a $2million discount. You can't compare him to most of the leagues players who make top dollar.

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Have to disagree with you here, Manatee. First of all, making a good move shouldn't mean being perfect all the time. We're not nitpicking a decision to waive an AHL callup making minimum wage. We're talking about whether to go all-in on a guy whose production seems to be in decline, to the tune of seven or eight years, paying him top dollar well into his '30s. That is a decision that good teams think long and hard about and land on the right side of more often than not.

Second, the Gorges example is inapt, because it's actually an example of a poor contract we gave out to an overrated fringe-top-four d-man based on one good season he had playing with ... eventual Norris-Trophy-winning P.K. Subban.

...

I guess the point that I was trying to make wasn't that we shouldn't strive for the perfect move, but rather that we'll always be able to find something wrong with just about every trade or UFA signing by their vary nature. There's another team involved in every trade that's not going to let you pull off anything too one-sided unless they completely drop the ball (like with the Rivet/Gorges trade, which is what I was referring to in my post - sorry for the confustion). When it comes to UFA signings you're going to have to overpay for the player, since a big name guy knows that if one team doesn't overpay them then another will.

How this relates to Vanek in particualr is that, yes, he's probably going to be overpaid and not live up to a big contract. But anybody that you get in free agency is probably not going to live up to their contract. So we can't just look at whether or not he'll be scoring at a $7M rate when he's 37 because, no, he probably won't be. But if you want to get a top scorer from the free agent market - which is something that I think this team is ready to do - that's what it's going to take and that's a future sacrifice that we'll have to make.

Now at the same time I'm obviously not saying that we should go hog-wild and snap up any free agent that comes our way under the banner of "hey, he's going to be overpayed by someone, might as well be us!" :P I agree with you that this is the sort of deal that you really need to think about - all I'm saying is that just because a player ends up overpaid doesn't automatically mean that the team who signed him made the wrong decision. There's a definite decision to be made about when it is right to make your free agent splash (or even whether its better to just eschew the free agent market altogether). I just think that this team is close enough to being a contender that having a prime scorer like Vanek in the lineup over the next 4-5 years could have a real positive effect and might - might - be enough to push us over the edge. I'm willing to risk some bad years at the end of the contract because I feel like this team should be able to compete enough over the next few years to make it worth our while.

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Some seem pretty certain he's already declining, but I don't know. I look at Vanek's production to date and I'm just seeing the natural ebs and flows of a guy who has played with a variety of linemates on varying levels of quality teams.

Well his best years were 2006-2009, maybe that was aided by stronger teammates and that's not truly he he was but his goals and SH% have declined since them. It wasn't meant to be a micro argument about the fact that he only has 1 point in his last 5 games thus he's on the decline but people were calling him a 40 goal man and my point is while that's technically correct, he hasn't scored at that rate for a full year in 5 seasons.

There are definitely natural ebbs and flows but he's averaged 30 goals and 68 points per 80 games the last 5 seasons and he's actually only been healthy enough to play 80 games once in those 5 years (one year was the lockout but he missed 10/48 games in that season) and given the games he missed this year, it's impossible for him to get to 80 again. So 80 it's self may be optimistic. The other factor is player's 25-30 seasons are more productive than 30-35, save a few outliers. He's quite unlikely to outproduce the last 5 years through the next 5. So what are we hoping to get here? We're going to sign this guy through his 39th birthday if we sign him in all likelihood. I think it would be pretty unlikely he averages 30 goals a season in the next 5 years.

I guess the point that I was trying to make wasn't that we shouldn't strive for the perfect move, but rather that we'll always be able to find something wrong with just about every trade or UFA signing by their vary nature. There's another team involved in every trade that's not going to let you pull off anything too one-sided unless they completely drop the ball (like with the Rivet/Gorges trade, which is what I was referring to in my post - sorry for the confustion). When it comes to UFA signings you're going to have to overpay for the player, since a big name guy knows that if one team doesn't overpay them then another will.

How this relates to Vanek in particualr is that, yes, he's probably going to be overpaid and not live up to a big contract. But anybody that you get in free agency is probably not going to live up to their contract. So we can't just look at whether or not he'll be scoring at a $7M rate when he's 37 because, no, he probably won't be. But if you want to get a top scorer from the free agent market - which is something that I think this team is ready to do - that's what it's going to take and that's a future sacrifice that we'll have to make.

Now at the same time I'm obviously not saying that we should go hog-wild and snap up any free agent that comes our way under the banner of "hey, he's going to be overpayed by someone, might as well be us!" :P I agree with you that this is the sort of deal that you really need to think about - all I'm saying is that just because a player ends up overpaid doesn't automatically mean that the team who signed him made the wrong decision. There's a definite decision to be made about when it is right to make your free agent splash (or even whether its better to just eschew the free agent market altogether). I just think that this team is close enough to being a contender that having a prime scorer like Vanek in the lineup over the next 4-5 years could have a real positive effect and might - might - be enough to push us over the edge. I'm willing to risk some bad years at the end of the contract because I feel like this team should be able to compete enough over the next few years to make it worth our while.

Agree, if a contract makes sense I don't mind taking on some years that might have high risk at the end but my problem is this is a player with no defensive value, isn't a great possession player and one that I wouldn't bet averaging 30 goals per season for the next 5 years of a contract, nevermind the last 2-3 that you'd probably have to tack on. I think he's a good offensive player, not a great one at this stage. I don't think the immediate payoff justifies the risk.

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I don't really disagree much with your assessment of Vanek, I think I'm more questioning what that assessment is worth contract-wise.

Yes, the last 5 years he's been a 30 goal / 68 point guy. But even that isn't something that hits the market very often. I understand the hesitation to call him a 40 goal guy when he's only done it twice, but then there's so few out there who can really make the claim of being a perenial 40+ goal scorer. Ovechkin and Stamkos currently, maybe Kessel, Iginla until very recently (though he still looks good to push 30). Crosby's only done it once. Perry's only done it once. Tavares has yet to score 40.

So basically, I think if what we're signing is basically a 30 goal 70 point guy, it might still be worth the risk depending on what the final numbers looked like.

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I think the Gionta contract is actually a fairly good starting point for the conversation about Vanek. Gionta is a slightly less talented scorer and as a result, a somewhat less targeted valuable commodity on the open market. But at the time we signed him, 5 years at 5M a season was a pretty sizable investment. When we signed him, I was first excited that we had landed a pretty decent UFA, which very rarely happened in Montreal. I thought he would be a decent addition, but I was also wary that we were going to be overpaying him in the last year or two of his contract. I think you'd have a hard time finding a GM who would give him 5M now, even on a one-year deal. But that being said, we got pretty good value out of Gionta for 3-4 years and then a bit of a tail-off of late, even though he's still providing value.

In Vanek's case, I think we can agree he's unlikely to pot 40 goals in a year (although I wouldn't rule out that happening completely in the next couple of seasons). He may not get to 30 every year, although I would venture a guess he'll do that at least 2-3 times over the course of the next 5 years as well. But even if he averages 28 goals and 65 points, that's still a pretty decent contribution and you still have the intangibles, things like his being a proven scorer, the fact that he may help to draw other free agents here if he adds to our success in the short term, and the fact that he'll draw coverage that might free up linemates or other lines to have easier match-ups. In the end, let's say we're deciding how to spend 8M a season and our options are

1. Buy up Vanek for 7M and spend the remainder on Leblanc or Holland or De La Rose or whoever else.

2. Buy up two players like Gionta, Prust, Bourque, or some of the other free agent examples I posted earlier that fit into that 4M range.

3. Find another big name free agent to pay the 7M to.

4. Spend the money on our developing guys from our own system.

5. Don't spend the money.

In option #2, I'm just not as thrilled about buying less proven talents or mid-range players. I'd rather take my chances that we have a proven top-line player in Vanek and then a shot at finding another player who over-performs for cheap (like Bournival this year or Gallagher last year). I'd vouch both of those guys have been better than our 4M veterans most of the time. In option #3, you also have to find someone who makes it to the market, is willing to come here, and comes at the same or better market value as Vanek. These players don't just hit the market wanting to come to Montreal. When was the last time we heard about a 25 year-old star becoming available and wanting to sign here? The youngest guys to hit the UFA market tend to be in their late 20's and in those cases, the true stars break the bank, are now getting at least 7-8M a year, and up until the new CBA, have been getting 10-15 year contracts. Those deals take you into the 36-40 year-old range at the end as well. The point is that proven scorers, when they're UFA's, simply cost money to buy up. There isn't going to be a former 40-goal scorer at age 27 who is willing to take below-market value to come here on a 5- or 6-year deal. It just isn't going to happen, and I'm not banking on the rare chance that it will.

In option #4, you need to draft well and develop stars in your own system. We're doing that with Pacioretty and Subban and Price and Galchenyuk, but those players can only fill so many roster spots. We still have other holes to fill and as I've pointed out, we really don't have any future 1st liners in the AHL or imminently going to move into that role in the next 3 years who aren't already playing for us. And in the last option, yes you don't commit to a bad deal, but you also haven't made your team any better if you're just waiting around for the perfect deal to present itself, a deal that may never come. So as I've been stating, signing Vanek is by no means risk-free and is by no means a perfect move. But I think relative to other moves we could be making with that money, this one is one of our best options and I think we would still be getting good value insofar as UFA signings go. The team is close enough to being a Cup contender now that I think it's worth risking a year or two of bad spending at the end of a long-term deal in exchange for strengthening our chances of a Cup in the next 3 years. If I'm GM, I'm not playing to be a playoff team, I'm going all in to try to win a Cup when I have stars like Price, Subban, Pacman, and Plekanec on the team. We don't have to give up anything to keep Vanek, so this is not the same as the Gomez trade, and I see the upside as being greater than the downside here.

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If this is his audition I don't think he wants to play here. I agree with the statement about his lazy play away from the puck and am bothered by the way he can coast to the bench after a shift where he has hardly moved. He is making Bourque look like a keeper at times. If he needs to adjust I hope it happens soon. I still think this was a good move by Bergevin, but the player has to want to produce. I believe this is not an automatic offer from Bergevin. If Vanek doesn't up his play I have no problems with letting him walk either.

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If this is his audition I don't think he wants to play here. I agree with the statement about his lazy play away from the puck and am bothered by the way he can coast to the bench after a shift where he has hardly moved. He is making Bourque look like a keeper at times. If he needs to adjust I hope it happens soon. I still think this was a good move by Bergevin, but the player has to want to produce. I believe this is not an automatic offer from Bergevin. If Vanek doesn't up his play I have no problems with letting him walk either.

Again, Vanek struggled in his first 6 games in Long Island, following which he put up a point per game the rest of the way. New player on his third team in one season, playing on a different line every 2 games. Give the guy a chance to adjust. I've seen a player who's been in good position, who's made good passes, and who's had chances to score. The play with DD and Pacioretty had been running almost in slow motion. As they get to know each other, the speed of the play will pick up and I'm sure we'll see Vanek start to score. I'm not worried about him.

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If we're going to keep dismissing offensive players because they're not perfect, the goals for numbers aren't going to be particularly great. I'd argue Vanek is relatively in line with what this team needs, but of course he's not the ideal player in every respect. That doesn't mean he doesn't have a role here. He's got 16 shots in his last 3 games, and some of them were absolutely superb. I really don't see a lack of trying there.

As for whether or not it's a good idea to give him 7-8 years of a high salary, I'm mixed but leaning towards it. There aren't a lot of other options around. To get good players in today's NHL you pretty much have to buy some bad years at the end of contracts.

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I think the Gionta contract is actually a fairly good starting point for the conversation about Vanek. Gionta is a slightly less talented scorer and as a result, a somewhat less targeted valuable commodity on the open market. But at the time we signed him, 5 years at 5M a season was a pretty sizable investment. When we signed him, I was first excited that we had landed a pretty decent UFA, which very rarely happened in Montreal. I thought he would be a decent addition, but I was also wary that we were going to be overpaying him in the last year or two of his contract. I think you'd have a hard time finding a GM who would give him 5M now, even on a one-year deal. But that being said, we got pretty good value out of Gionta for 3-4 years and then a bit of a tail-off of late, even though he's still providing value.

Agree on Gionta as a reasonable starting point, although despite less scoring ability Gionta was/still is a better defensive player and thus was able to continue to be a valuable tough matchups type of player. The problem is the difference between signing a player through his 35th birthday and signing him through his 39th. Vanek is a better offensive player but if we had Gionta signed a handful more seasons, the opinion of the contract is pretty different. I'd be glad to overpay Vanek through 35. I question if he's even worth what he'll get next year but I questioned the same with Gionta and he provided value at that level for 2 seasons.
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In Vanek's case, I think we can agree he's unlikely to pot 40 goals in a year (although I wouldn't rule out that happening completely in the next couple of seasons). He may not get to 30 every year, although I would venture a guess he'll do that at least 2-3 times over the course of the next 5 years as well. But even if he averages 28 goals and 65 points, that's still a pretty decent contribution and you still have the intangibles, things like his being a proven scorer, the fact that he may help to draw other free agents here if he adds to our success in the short term, and the fact that he'll draw coverage that might free up linemates or other lines to have easier match-ups.

But he turns 31 in the middle of next season, year 1 of a presumably 7-8 year deal. Here's my problem with your numbers, I feel they take a big leap of faith. You're expecting him to be as productive in the 5 seasons where his age ranges from 30-36 as he was in from 25-30. That's a MASSIVE leap of faith, most players are flat out more productive 25-30 than they are 30-35+. You project 2-3 30 goal seasons, he's done it once since 2009. I know injuries have been a factor but they're more likely to be a factor 30-36 than they are 25-30. I'm just not sure here. The math isn't adding up for me.
This is the problem with contracts, you have to be very aware you're buying the next 5+ years, not the previous 5 years. If his production through his early to mid 30's matches his mid to late 20's, he's a unique player and may have justified the contract EVEN if you tack on 3 additional rough years from 36-39. But yeesh. I'm as excited about him for this year as anyone and I think he's actually looked good despite the lack of points but I'm not sure on a few points here.

In the end, let's say we're deciding how to spend 8M a season and our options are

1. Buy up Vanek for 7M and spend the remainder on Leblanc or Holland or De La Rose or whoever else.
2. Buy up two players like Gionta, Prust, Bourque, or some of the other free agent examples I posted earlier that fit into that 4M range.
3. Find another big name free agent to pay the 7M to.
4. Spend the money on our developing guys from our own system.
5. Don't spend the money.
All these options are looking at it through a short term lens. I don't view this team as a contender, I think it will probably take 2 years for us to develop/round out or D before we can be legitimate. I'm afraid of what having Vanek at 7-8 million, Subban at that or higher and Price at 6.5 does to our cap long term if say Galchenyuk develops in the 7-9 million dollar caliber player we expect/hope in the next couple of years.
I think the best option is to find a contract in the Gionta/Cammalleri range like we did in 2009. Lockup a player with a lesser name and a bit less production up through 34-35. I'll gladly overpay shorter term to do that. With Vanek were essentially signing a UFA because there's not going to be a hometown discount and it's highly unlikely he signs before July 1.
You mention Gomez, take away what we gave up for Gomez and he's still an albatross, this is the problem with older players, it's hard to predict how guys in their 30's will hold up and produce as they get older. Some are productive longer, some die fast. Gomez seemed like a reasonable bet to at least be good through the contract and it wasn't like he was signed that old, take away what we gave up for him and it seemed like he'd at least be a useful player through the end of that contract. I don't trust locking up players in their 30's and I especially don't think I'd EVER sign a non-superstar player over 30 to a 7-8 year deal. I just can't imagine it ever not being a prohibitive risk.
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Guest mrsmarkov

At last Vanek scored last night, 3 to be exact. Congrats on your first hatrick as a Hab.



Last night was the first time he ever appeared to be happy and actually wanting to be here.

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All things considered, cap is going up and Vanek plays the kind of game that will allow him to be effective for a number of years. It's never been about speed or explosiveness for him, he's a net presence with an underrated playmaking ability, wicked hand-eye coordination and a great shot.

Sure the last year or two might be a cause for concern but sometimes you've got to gamble.

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