Thomas Vanek, nearly three weeks after the start of the NHL's free agency, remains on the market. That is a little surprising given that he is one of the only hot targets out there that is still at an age that could be called his prime. With so many out-of-prime players that are close to retirement, like Jaromir Jagr and Jarome Iginla, on the free-agency market, you would think that Vanek might have been gobbled up already. However, the forward remains a future pick-up for someone and he promises to improve the complexion for whatever team lands him. One team that stands out more than others is the Detroit Red Wings.

Vanek's name dropped all over the place

Vanek, as one of the strongest unrestricted free agents, has been central to a lot of signing gossip. On July 12th a partisan Detroit Red Wings website, Octopus Thrower, headlined "Thomas Vanek Still on the Radar?" Vanek did play for Detroit last season for a large part of the year. He was very effective there, and in fact, his production only dropped after joining the Florida Panthers for the last handful of weeks of the season. At that time, numerous players were slumping as Florida hit a freefall that took them out of contention.

Despite poor play with Florida, Vanek has been suggested as possibly returning to the Panthers. A July 14th article at The Rat Trick calls the prospect of the Panthers signing Vanek an "intriguing possibility." However, "possibility" isn't a convincing world, but rather could just be used as part of blind gossip.

Vanek's name has been mentioned in conjunction with so many teams that it's hard to sort out the fluff from the substance.

Detroit seems most likely landing spot

If anything, the large part of the gossip with Vanek has to do with Detroit and that certainly makes sense from some points of view. They are the team that would have the most confidence in him right now based on last season.

Florida didn't accomplish their goals after trading for Vanek late in the last regular season. But when he played for the Red Wings in 2016/17, he had almost 0.80 points per game. If you are in Detroit management, then you have a firm grip on what Vanek can do within your offensive systems. That would give Detroit some confidence in signing Vanek that other teams simply might not have.

That in turn might mean that the Red Wings are the club most likely to offer the most competitive salary.

While some of the fringe sites offer their takes on what will become of Vanek, The Detroit Free Press stands out for a recent report. Helene St. James reported last week that the Red Wings and the forward are still in contact. He remains an unrestricted free agent and at the age of 33, he out-competes a lot of players in that category in terms of youth. Furthermore, he's more proven offensively than a lot of other Unrestricted Free Agents. For that reason, he might just bide him time to get the best offer given that any club that feels they are in a desperate need to make a signing might be willing to ante up in the weeks ahead of the start of the next season.

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