Former Gopher Vanek Returns To Minnesota With Wild

Updated: 07/01/2014 5:46 PM By: Lauren Beukelman

The Minnesota Wild introduced newly-signed free agent Thomas Vanek Tuesday at a press conference.

The team was able to come to terms on a 3-year, $19.5 million contract with Vanek who was considered one of the top free agents this season.

"I wanted to join an organization where I had a chance to win," Vanek said. "That is why I was willing to sign for three years and not worry about going higher."


He signed with the Wild for a lower dollar figure and shorter term than he was reportedly offered by several other teams.

Vanek chose to enter free agency after playing for three different teams during the 2013-2014 seasons including the Sabres, Islanders and Canadiens.

A former University of Minnesota star, Vanek admitted he hoped his decision to move to free agency would create an opportunity to move back to the State of Hockey.

"When I made decision to go to free agency this was definitely a team I had in mind," Vanek said. "My top priority was to sign here."

Before entering the NHL, Vanek helped lead the Gophers to a NCAA National Championship in 2003 and hopes to do the same during his time with the Wild.

"The best thing in my career so far was winning the NCAA Championship with the Gophers," Vanek said. "To be part of the Wild and be able to go after the big prize and have our chance to do it here in Minnesota is beyond my wildest dreams."

The Wild strive to utilize Vanek's powerful right shot which has landed him as one of the top-ten scorers in the NFL.

"We really wanted a right shot and we really wanted someone who could play with top players and we wanted someone who could help our power play, Wild GM Chuck Fletcher said. "Scoring goals is a big part of winning games, he is a game breaker and things he does well are things we need."

Watch KSTP's web extra interview with 1500 ESPN's Judd Zulgad as he discusses Vanek's return to the State of Hockey.