Washington Capitals: Make Thomas Vanek A Priority

The Washington Capitals should make another trade with the Detroit Red Wings.

Yesterday, the Capitals acquired defenseman Nick Jensen and a 2019 fifth round draft selection from the Red Wings. In exchange, the Red Wings acquired a defenseman Madison Bowey and a 2020 second round draft selection. This trade certainly helped the Capitals as they were able to add a solid puck moving right-handed defenseman. 

While they were able to add some depth on their blue-line, Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan should be looking to add another forward. In particular, they should look at adding Baden bei Wien, Austria native, Thomas Vanek

Thomas Vanek

In his career, Vanek has played with many teams including the Buffalo Sabres, Minnesota Wild, Columbus Blue Jackets, New York Islanders, Montreal Canadiens. In terms of career statistics, Vanek has tallied 369 goals, 413 assists, 231 power-play goals, 130 power-play assists, 14.3 shooting percentage and a 48.4 corsi-for percentage in 1,019 games. Overall, those are solid numbers. 

This season, he’s posted 12 goals, 17 assists, 8 power-play points, 14:03 average time on ice, a 47.9 corsi-for percentage and a 69.4 offensive zone start percentage. Those numbers could be better, but due to center depth issues, he’s being paired with below-average talent. Vanek’s line-mate, Luke Glendening hasn’t been effective in Detroit and isn’t someone who you should rely on in the offensive zone. He’s a typical bottom six grinder. The other option would be to play Vanek alongside Michael Rasmussen. But, the 19 year-old center hasn’t looked very solid and seems to need more time in the minors or in the CHL developing.

At this point, most folks around the league are speculating that Vanek will be dealt. He’ll become a UFA on July 1st and he’s playing for a squad that won’t be making the playoffs. There is absolutely no incentive for the Red Wings to hang onto Vanek. The only curveball is that Vanek has a no-trade-clause, but you have to imagine that he’d be open to waiving it for a chance to lift the Stanley Cup.

So, perhaps, if the Capitals traded for Vanek and paired him with Lars Eller, the Austrian national might have more success and could potentially win his first Stanley Cup.

How Vanek Can Help Burakovsky?

In addition to Vanek having more success in Washington, he might be able to help Capitals forward Andre Burakovsky. While Burakovsky’s national team might be Sweden, he was born in Austria and could maybe use some inspiration from an Austrian voice in the locker room. 

Throughout this season, Burakovsky has looked pretty abysmal at times. If you compare Vanek’s production to Burakovsky’s production this season, you’ll see that all-around Vanek has been more effective. Also while Vanek’s corsi-for percentage might not look so great in the diagram below, keep in mind that playing with players like Glendening haven’t necessarily helped Vanek post solid possession stats. 

The most noticeable difference in the comparison has to be in the offensive zone. Vanek blows Burakovsky out of the water in points, primary points, goals, primary assists, secondary assists and shooting percentage.

diagram – SKATR Comparison Tool (Bill Comeau)

Plus, I can’t see the Capitals giving up on Burakovsky. Sure, he’s been in trade rumors, but he’s got a tremendous amount of upside and my assumption is that MacLellan wouldn’t receive that much in a trade for him right now. If the offers that are coming in aren’t up to par, I would give Burakovsky more time in a Washington sweater. Worst case, he doesn’t get better and he walks on July 1st. 


Overall, there are a lot of bonuses to acquiring Vanek. But, the best part is that the Capitals wouldn’t have to cough up that much. It’s hard to believe that the prospect of acquiring Vanek, wouldn’t intrigue MacLellan.

stats from hockey-reference.com, NHL.com and Bill Comeau’s SKATR

featured image photo credit – Josh Tessler


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