NHL mercenary Thomas Vanek was traded at the deadline (shocker, I know) to the Columbus Blue Jackets. In return, the Vancouver Canucks received 22-year-old Tyler Motte and 34-year-old Jussi Jokinen.
It’s no surprise that Vanek was on the block and likely to be moved at the deadline, but the return for the sniper was always up in the air. At this point, it seems like the Blue Jackets walked away with a great rental for little-to-no cost.
The 2003 fifth-overall pick has been an offensive weapon for the majority of his career but starting back in 2013, he’s been a gun-for-hire and played for seven (soon to be eight) teams in those five seasons — rumor has it that he doesn’t even unpack his suitcases even more.
The 34-year-old came to Vancouver on a one-year contract with a no-trade clause and pleasantly surprised everyone with some solid hockey and point production. In his 61 games as a Canuck, Vanek potted 17 goals and 24 helpers.
If Thomas Vanek has indeed played his last game for #Canucks this season, here are how his totals rank on the team in the following categories:
Goals: 17 (2nd)
Points: 41 (2nd)
Assists: 27 (T-2nd)
PP PTS: 14 (2nd)
Shots: 121 (3rd)
PP Shots: 30 (2nd)
GP: 61 (T-2nd)
— Joey Kenward (@kenwardskorner) February 26, 2018
He was undeniably one of the best Canucks this season, as the posted statistics above indicated and made the case for a decent return at the deadline. So, the question has surfaced — did the Canucks get enough for Thomas Vanek?
Out of St. Clair, Michigan, Tyler Motte is a player that’s only dipped his toes in the waters of the NHL — he played 33 games for the Chicago Blackhawks and then 31 games for the Blue Jackets, contributing 12 points in total.
Motte has been described as a strong skating, simple, two-way player that doesn’t get flashy in the offensive zone and is defensively responsible. He’s a solid penalty-killer and, in his college hockey days, he was projected to be a bottom-six NHL player that can spice up a team’s secondary scoring.
Speaking of his college days, Motte chalked up 105 points 107 games for the Big Ten’s Michigan Wolverines — notably, in his final season (2015-16), Motte found twine 32 times in 38 games. So, he’s displayed offensive abilities in high-level hockey. His prowess in that 2015-16 season resulted in Motte finishing as a finalist for the coveted Hobey Baker Award, alongside fellow Canucks prospect Thatcher Demko.
Former teammates describe Motte with a ton of potential and room for growth and it’s difficult to find someone who doesn’t speak of Motte with praise, whether that be on the ice, or off.
“I mean he’s a smart player. You can tell he learns quickly. I think he’s going to be a good player for us (Blackhawks).” – Marcus Kruger told NBC Sports (2016)
Motte was definitely the key part of the Vanek deal for the Canucks and he can hopefully evolve into a solid bottom-six player for the rising Canucks.
Much like Vanek, Jokinen is a 34-year-old veteran that has difficulty staying put in one spot for long periods of time. However, unlike Vanek, Jokinen is not an offensive weapon. The Canucks are Jokinen’s fourth team this season alone — he’s found twine only once this season, so far.
The 13-season veteran has accumulated 553 points over his long career, but understandably, has started to fall off. Jokinen is a great veteran presence in any locker room, but isn’t jelling too well in the new era of the NHL that is dominated by speed and skill.
I think I see Jim Benning’s angle, though, as there so often is a hidden motive. Jokinen formerly played alongside current Canuck Brandon Sutter with the 2013-14 Pittsburgh Penguins and they worked very well together, especially in the playoffs.
Jokinen brings a veteran presence with playoff experience, who has the ability to contribute a reasonable amount offensively, from a bottom-six position.
It’s clear that Jim Benning was looking to bolster the Canucks’ bottom-six and he certainly did — Jokinen and Sutter should be able to re-capture their chemistry together while Motte can hopefully develop into a reliable third-line player who contributes to the team’s secondary scoring.
Vanek is a mercenary, but he was still one of the best Canucks this season and I think he was worthy of a draft pick or a reasonable prospect.
I think the Blue Jackets won this trade by getting a great rental before playoffs by expending two players who were not playing a lot of NHL minutes. However, the Canucks could re-sign Vanek in the off-season, which I think is a good idea.
Short-term winner: Columbus Blue Jackets
Long-term winner: Vancouver Canucks…maybe?
Is Vanek worth more? Less? Tell me what you think about this deal below!
Matt is a longtime fan, player and student of the game of hockey. Broadcast and Online Journalism student at the British Columbia Institute of Technology.