May 3, 2014; Boston, MA, USA; Montreal Canadiens left wing Thomas Vanek (20) looks for a rebound in front of Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask (40) during the third period in game two of the second round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs at TD Banknorth Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota Wild Sign Thomas Vanek

The Minnesota Wild have struck early in NHL free agency by bringing in wing Thomas Vanek with a three-year deal. He was the biggest offensive weapon available this offseason and the Wild made the move. Vanek is the NHL’s 8th leading scorer since the 2005-06 season.

“It doesn’t get much better for me right now…” Vanek told Sportsnet. “What’s more exciting is how good the team is… It’s a team that is very deep, and I know I can add to that”

Vanek was traded twice during the last season, playing for the Buffalo Sabres, New York Islanders and Montreal Canadiens and still scored 68 points in 78 games. By comparison, Zach Parise was second on the team last season with 56 points in 67 games while Vanek’s former teammate in Buffalo, Jason Pominville, led the team with 60 points while playing all 82 games.

After moving to the United States from Vienna, Austria, Vanek played his high school puck at O’Gorman Catholic High School in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He then spent two years at the University of Minnesota and helped the Golden Gophers win the 2003 NCAA National Championship. He scored 113 points in 83 games with the Gophers and was the 2003 Frozen Four tournament MVP.

In addition to forward Thomas Vanek, the Wild has signed defenseman Stu Bickel to a one-year deal, two-way contract, forward Brett Sutter to a two-year, two-way contract, and Guillaume Gelinas to a three-year entry level contract.

How do you feel about the Wild’s first day of free agency? Leave a comment below

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Tags: Brett Sutter Guillaume Gelinas Minnesota Wild Stu Bickel Thomas Vanek