Thomas Vanek is coming home to play for the Minnesota Wild.
The former Gophers scoring machine signed a three-year deal, according to NHL reporter Luc Gelinas. TSN's Bob McKenzie reports the deal will pay Vanek an average annual salary of $6.5 million. The entire deal is worth $19.5 million.
“Thomas is an elite offensive talent who showed a strong desire to play in Minnesota,” Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher said, via Wild.com. “We are excited to welcome him to our organization.”
Michael Russo of the Star Tribune reports that Vanek was offered more money from other teams, but it only took him two hours from the start of free agency to pick his hometown team.
The Minnesota Wild confirmed the report on Twitter, offering up a homecoming theme for Vanek.
Vanek met with Wild coach Mike Yeo Sunday evening and Russo said both sides were happy after the meeting. Vanek’s agent, Steve Bartlett, said Vanek enjoyed listening to Yeo talk about his coaching philosophy.
Vanek scored 27 goals and had 41 assists last season while playing for three different teams, the Buffalo Sabres, New York Islanders and Montreal Canadiens. Prior to being traded twice last season, Vanek played his entire career in Buffalo.
The 30-year-old still spends his summers in Stillwater.
MOULSON, STONER GONE
In related news, Wild winger Matt Moulson's brief stint with the Wild is over. The Pioneer Press reports that Moulson is headed back to Buffalo – the team Minnesota traded with to get him last season – on a five-year deal. Clayton Stoner has also signed a three-year deal with the Ducks.