Renaud Lavoie of TVA Sports tweeted this evening that Thomas Vanek’s agent has confirmed the Montreal Canadiens winger will test the open market when free agency begins on July 1st.
He also mentioned that the big winger will still entertain an offer from his current team, but will not make up his mind until he sees what else is out there on the open market.
I have to believe this all but ensures that the Austrian winger will not be back with the Habs next season. The chances of him returning were not very high to begin with, but I can guarantee the Canadiens will not make the biggest offer for him, and clearly all he is after is the most money.
Vanek had a very hot and cold stint with the Habs this season, although he only suited up for 35 total games after being acquired from the New York Islanders at the trade deadline. The Habs gave up a 2nd round pick in this year’s draft as well as Swedish prospect Sebastien Collberg, and Vanek struggled in his first few games with the Habs.
He then caught fire down the stretch while playing on a line with David Desharnais and Max Pacioretty, but then slowed down once again as the Canadiens went deep into the postseason. Vanek had just 4 points in the Canadiens final 10 playoff games, and found himself playing on the fourth line by the time the Habs were eliminated.
Though he disappointed in the playoffs, his offensive abilities would still be attractive for the Habs, but general manager Marc Bergevin is too conservative to offer the type of contract that he will now fetch as an unrestricted free agent.
A lot of fans will be happy to see him go, as he took a lot of blame for the Canadiens failure to advance beyond the New York Rangers and into the Stanley Cup Final. However, this leaves a void in the Habs top six that desperately needs to be filled this offseason.
Vanek may have been an ideal candidate to fill that void, but at the price he is going to demand there is no chance that Bergevin will bring him back to the Canadiens next season.