The New York Post's Larry Brooks was very busy on Saturday evening, pondering the fates of Brian Boyle and the Rangers' unrestricted and restricted free agents-to-be, as well as positing a thorough set of NHL notes. The main topic of his latter work may be a well-tread-upon (trodden-upon?) subject, but it bears repeating.
On July 1st, we know that Thomas Vanek will earn a boatload of money. What we don't know is how much he's going to earn, nor do we know whether his spectacularly mediocre playoff run with the Montreal Canadiens has changed NHL general managers' minds as to whether Vanek is in fact a game-breaking player, or whether he's the kind of "specialist" player who needs to be placed amidst both a strong supporting cast and a set of doing-the-hard-work-for-him linemates who must pave the way for someone who might not be the natural goal-scoring machine everyone thought he was prior to his trade to the Islanders last December.
Is Vanek worth the investment that somebody is more likely than not to put into someone who either is a game-breaker or is in fact the modern-day Ray Sheppard? Brooks isn't sure:
[There's no] evidence at all the winger is remotely worth the seven-year, $50 million deal he rejected from the Islanders before being sent to Montreal at the deadline. No evidence he is anyone’s missing piece to a playoff puzzle.
And yet, the rule of the NHL market is — or has been: Players don’t pay a price for having underperformed and teams indeed will pay the manufacturer’s sticker price, regardless.
See: Semin, Alex for a prime example. Another: Thornton, Joe.
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