Call of the Wilde: Thomas Vanek: Hell Yeah?
Brian Wilde, CTV Montreal
Published Wednesday, March 5, 2014 6:53PM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, March 5, 2014 10:28PM EST
It’s a deal that reminds one of the acquisition of Alex Kovalev for Jozef Balej.
That was a deal that gave the Habs so much excitement through the years watching the magician Kovalev skate around Bell Centre ice.
Balej never became a player even though he was the leading scorer in the AHL affiliate Hamilton at the time and Glen Sather had a choice of Balej or Tomas Plekanec and took Balej’s better numbers instead of one of the game’s best two way centers Plekanec.
Now the script plays out again and the Habs are hopeful that Thomas Vanek will love Montreal the same way that Kovalev came to enjoy the tremendous roar and atmosphere of hockey in the Mecca.
Vanek has already commented today, “It’s an electric building.” He will make it more electric. However, even if Vanek doesn’t stay in Montreal beyond this season and he is a rental only, it is still an excellent deal for Marc Bergevin and erases the three or so moves that have been suspect in the past year.
Vanek is a player – a real player. The Habs only gave up two assets and it’s unlikely that the one asset prospect Sebatien Collberg ever amounts to much in the NHL. He may. He may not.
Certainly when he was drafted he was on the upswing. He looked outstanding in the shootout of his first World Junior Tournament, but Collberg has not improved at all in the last year and a half.
This year in Sweden again he has struggled and only has 3 goals on 9 points.
At the last World Junior event in Malmo, Sweden, Collberg was alright at the Worlds, but it is clear that the Habs second round pick the following year another Swede Jakob De La Rose who is one year younger had already passed Collberg.
De La Rose is more of a physical force. He is more around the puck. He is just flat-out a better player.
When you’re a better teenager in comparison to someone and are one year younger, then that’s saying a lot.
If the Habs had lost De La Rose in this trade, then the matter would be different. That would have been a win for Garth Snow, but Collberg? I predict he becomes a foot note, like Balej.
The second round pick is contingent on the Habs making the playoffs. The presumption is they do. When that happens, the Habs and Islanders will swap a 2nd round and a 5th round pick. Not too shabby. A second rounder is never a guarantee.
The acquisition of Vanek changes the landscape entirely for the Canadiens going forward. They were a team with only one strong line, a team that was struggling to find a winger that would click with Tomas Plekanec.
The Habs have put a lot of men in that role this year. In fact, they’ve put a lot of chaff with Plekanec over the years who just never got a break, and had to create his own offence.
Michel Therrien says he has a special plan for Vanek, but will not reveal it until he has a chance to talk to the Austrian when he arrives in Phoenix tomorrow for the Habs third game on their four game western swing.
Vanek is a right-handed shot. If he plays on the right, then Gionta pushes to the third line. Not a bad player for the third line.
If he plays on the left side, then Galchenyuk moves to the third line. This could open up a world of possibilities for the Habs.
Vanek has averaged almost a point a game on the Islanders and the Sabres this year. That’s saying a lot because those teams aren’t exactly world beaters and both won’t be heading to the playoffs.
Vanek also has 15 of his 21 goals 5 on 5. This is a massive stat for the Habs who have struggled mightily trying to score at even strength.
Vanek has also managed to carve out only a minus one in the plus minus playing most of the season for the New York Islanders. This is a solid feat. There’s nothing bad to say about Vanek. You never hear a bad thing about his attitude over the years. You never hear him complain.
The only complaint Habs fans will likely have over this player is in July, when he opts to go to Minnesota where everyone presumes he is destined. He turned down a giant offer to stay on Long Island, so that is why Garth Snow looks so bad here giving up a first rounder to Buffalo only to get nearly nothing in return.
But enough of the Islanders.
This is the recovery move of Marc Bergevin who was having a flat-out bad year as all of his signings had tough seasons: Briere in and out of the press box mostly due to mishandling by Therrien to be blunt, Parros concussions the most relevant topic, and Murray used a lot but the worst skater I have seen in this league in a long time.
Bergevin cancels all of that mess out here with a home run. Vanek will produce here. He’s the leading scorer on the Habs already and he hasn’t even hit the ice with the CH on his chest.
The only sour note on the day is Andrei Markov stays without a contract or a trade. The book on Markov gets nervy now.
If he is signed before July, and remains a Hab then no harm, no foul. If he moves on, then this is a valuable asset that was let go for nothing in return.
I would like a player to be handled before he gets freedom, but let’s give Bergevin a longer leash now on this player. Why? Because with the theft of Vanek, he’s earned it. It was the best move of the deadline day. It was the best Habs managerial move since Bob Gainey robbed San Jose of a draft pick that became Max Pacioretty and Josh Gorges for Craig Rivet.
Celebrate, Habs fans. The east is wide open this year with only Boston and Pittsburgh standing out. Both of those teams are not unbeatable.
The Habs stand next on the podium most likely. There have been a lot of number three seeds go far in the playoffs.
With this addition, the Habs just might be one who goes far too. Thank your General Manager because tonight Habs fans… hope floats.