Todd Bertuzzi says Thomas Vanek ‘a very good pick up’ for Canucks

Former Vancouver Canuck Corey Hirsh joins Sportsnet 650 to discuss whether Thomas Vanek fits in with the Canucks.

It was supposed to be a year for the kids in Vancouver, with the Canucks in a rebuild, the Sedins entering the last year of their contracts, and the team needing to find which group of players they’ll move into the future with.

So Friday’s signing of 33-year-old UFA Thomas Vanek to a one-year, $2 million contract caught many by surprise. Coming off a 17-goal, 48-point season, Vanek still has some scoring punch but his addition potentially takes a roster spot away from an incoming rookie.

Speaking on Sportsnet 650 in Vancouver on Tuesday, former Canuck Todd Bertuzzi talked about why a team in the Canucks’ situation needs an experienced player like Vanek instead of stacking a roster with rookies.

“You need dressing room leadership, you need that veteran presence whether it’s for one year or two or whatever it is you need someone who carries a big stick and has an opinion and can show the kids how to do it,” he said.

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Unless Vancouver shocks the hockey world and is challenging for a playoff spot, we’d expect Vanek will be dangled in trade talks at the deadline, where a contender would be interested in adding his offence. Last season, Vanek was traded from the Red Wings to the Florida Panthers at the deadline when they were making a playoff push, with the Red Wings picking up Dylan McIlrath and a conditional third-round pick.

It’s not a return that will put Vancouver over the top, but these are the kinds of assets Jim Benning did well to acquire in his own deadline day actions in 2017.

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In the meantime, Bertuzzi figures Vanek is a good fit to play alongside the Sedin twins. While not everyone who has been put on their line has succeeded, Bertuzzi thinks the key to that role is having patience, finding the open ice, and “understanding that you might not have the puck on your stick for a whole entire period,” although they will eventually find you at the right time.

Vanek could be that guy.

“Potentially he could be that fill-in for the twins,” Bertuzzi said. “I think he could play on the wing with those guys — guy in the high slot, he plays 200 feet, but most importantly he’s a great dressing room guy. I think it’s a very good pick up especially for that price.”

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