The trade deadline has been a relatively busy one for the Columbus Blue Jackets. There were rumours that Jack Johnson was going to be dealt, and many of the Fifth Line faithful were interested to see if the front office would add some much-needed help in the form of a forward. This has come in the form of Thomas Vanek.
Deadline Day Addition of Thomas Vanek is the Right Move for the Blue Jackets
There are multiple reasons to look favourably on this trade. And to better understand why this is a good move, aside from the obvious reason that a player with 41 points in 61 games this season will help production.
The Ailing Powerplay
Since coming into the league in 2005-06 with the Buffalo Sabres, he has been known as a powerplay specialist. Despite operating on a less than stellar Vancouver Canucks powerplay unit, he has still managed to accumulate 14 points on the man advantage this season.
Over the course of his 946-game career, he has racked up an impressive 256 points on the man advantage. To put it into perspective, this accounts for a whopping 34.6% of his 738 career points. He has also scored 133 of his 350 goals on the powerplay. That accounts for 38% of his total goals.
With the Blue Jackets operating at a lowly (and depressing) 14.6% on the man advantage this season, this could be the addition they need to improve their special teams. While it is not a like-for-like addition, it could have a similar effect that Sam Gagner had on the power play for the first half of the 2016-17 season.
Addresses Need for Scoring Depth
Let’s be honest, Vanek is not going to be a point-per-game player. But that is not what the Blue Jackets need. Having another reliable forward that is able to both score and create is what they need, and that is what he offers.
Currently, the Jackets have a serious lack of depth in point production. Whether it be because of underperforming players, injuries, or lack of talent, they need help. That much is obvious. Vanek, playing on one of the less dynamic offensive teams in the league in Vancouver, had 41 points in 61 games so far this season.
When taking that into account, it shows just how good of a late addition this is going to be. It is a very safe statement to say that the second and third line pairings in Columbus are overall quite a bit better than the current ones in Vancouver. And while Vanek won’t have the ability to play with the Sedin brothers anymore, he will have others that are quite talented to pair with.
The Price is Right
There are two ways to look at this. One is the cap hit and the term for Vanek. His contract is up after this year, meaning Vanek is currently nothing more than a reliable rental for a playoff push. His contract having no future implications on re-signing others in the off-season is a huge benefit.
The other way to look at the price being right is what the Jackets sent to Vancouver. The first piece being Tyler Motte would be the most disappointing loss in this, although that is not the appropriate word to use. Motte was a decent depth forward, at best. John Tortorella used him sparingly, and Vancouver needs young depth. Losing him for a seasoned veteran rental is a smart move by the organization.
The other piece that the Jackets sent away was Jussi Jokinen. With all due respect, Columbus did not lose anything valuable here. Jokinen found it hard to find his footing in Columbus, and he is now with his fourth team of the 2017-18 season. And with the recent acquisition of Mark Letestu, keeping Jokinen became nothing short of pointless.
The Best Move for Columbus to Make
Acquiring Vanek was the best move for Columbus to make. Although the Jackets could have sold veteran defenseman Jack Johnson for a bigger package, it was smart to avoid that.
Keeping Johnson as part of the defensive corps, adding another serviceable defenseman in Ian Cole, and adding Letestu and Vanek have addressed almost every issue that Columbus has had this season. The defense looks strong again, Letestu adds depth, and Vanek addresses multiple points of emphasis all on his own.
This addition is the one the Blue Jackets need to get them back on track to making the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the second straight season. And it is safe to say, Thomas Vanek was the icing on top of the cake.