In the final seconds leading up to the trade deadline, Bergevin acquired right wing Thomas Vanek from the New York Islanders in return for Swedish prospect Sebastian Collberg and a conditional second round draft pick.
It was Bergevin’s third trade-deadline transaction. Tuesday he had traded a 2015 fifth round draft pick to Florida for defenseman Mike Weaver and earlier Wednesday picked up goaltender Devan Dubnyk from Nashville for future considerations.
The 30-year old Vanek has split his season between Buffalo and the Islanders. He instantly becomes the Canadiens leading scorer with 53 points in 60 games; 21 goals and 32 assists .
His assets are obvious. At 6’2” and 207 lbs, he brings size and a righthand shot to the Canadiens offense. Minutes after the trade announcement Vanek talked to TSN about coming to Montreal, “I played there a lot when I was with Buffalo. An electric city. A great building. I’m happy to join them.”
The biggest job for the Canadiens front office will be signing him at the end of the season when he can become an unrestricted free agent. It will be an uphill climb.
First, he won’t be cheap. Vanek is coming off a seven year contract with an annual cap hit of 6.4 million dollars. It is rumoured that his ultimate desire is to play for the Minnesota Wild. Vanek’s wife, Ashley is a Minnesota native and the family makes it’s off-season home in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. Vanek was part of the 2003 University of Minnesota team that won the NCAA championship. When asked about the possibility of signing a Canadiens contract, Vanek said “Never say ‘never'”.
At the time of the trade, Vanek was in Edmonton with his Islander teammates. Getting to Anaheim in time for Wednesday’s game against the Ducks seems out of the question. It’s probable he will join the Canadiens in Phoenix in time for Thursday’s Canadiens/Coyotes game.
His first game at the Bell Centre will be next Wednesday against the Bruins, a team he has killed. He has had great nights against Boston over the years, scoring 30 goals and 31 assists in 53 games.
The conditions attached to the trade are: if the Canadiens make the playoffs, the Islanders get the second-round pick but send back a fifth-round pick. If the Habs miss the playoffs, only Sebastian Collberg goes to the Islanders.