Someone finally nabbed the best unrestricted free agent on the NHL market, at least among the ones still in their prime playing years. Thomas Vanek, now 33 years old, split last season with the Detroit Red Wings and the Florida Panthers. There had been some buzz that he might return to Detroit over the last couple of months since free agency started. Between Florida and Detroit, the latter is the club where Vanek played well last season. However Vanek signed with the Vancouver Canucks and will take his talents to the Pacific Division. reported on Friday afternoon that he "signed a one-year, $2 million contract with the Vancouver Canucks on Friday" (Kevin Woodley/September 1st).

Why the Canucks won this contract

That the Canucks signed Vanek for only one year has to be a bit disappointing for their fans. However that Vancouver got a solid player for only two million dollars for the upcoming season still makes it a very good contract for Vancouver. Often when a player still in his prime playing years signs a one-year deal on the budget-friendly side it's because he wants to re-establish himself with hopes of getting something solid in free agency the following year. Ales Hemsky signing with the Montreal Canadiens for a thin $1M is a contract that's like that.

Vanek didn't do well after joining the Florida Panthers last season, however basically everyone on the team slumped during the latter stages of the 2016/17 regular season.

It could be this patch of bad form that lowered Vanek's market value a bit. However when he was with Detroit last season Vanek was a 0.79 point-per-game forward. Given that his numbers tanked in Florida, after changing teams and only in the context of a team slump, it might the numbers Vanek had with Detroit that might be more insightful for the Canucks this season.

Canucks in tough Pacific Division

The Pacific Division, the division that the Canucks are a member of, is looking nightmarish for a peripheral team trying to make the post-season. The Edmonton Oilers are locks for the playoffs provided that they don't take major injuries to major players. The Anaheim Ducks look very solid too while the San Jose Sharks might be a bit over-rated.

But there still isn't a lot of room for Arizona, Calgary, Vancouver, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas to get an automatic bid. The Canucks certainly needed a good signing like this to help improve their outlook to contend for a low seed. Sam Gagner wasn't a bad signing either and overall Vancouver look as though they could be in the mix for the peripheral playoff spots in the upcoming season.