It’s the moment Thomas Vanek has been waiting for.
On July 1, the Montreal Canadiens forward will be a free agent and there will be no shortage of suitors for his services.
“A year ago I made a decision that it will likely be my only time to pick my own team, and hopefully pick a team where I have a chance to win,” Vanek told reporters Saturday. “So once I made the decision, you can’t look back.
Vanek will have options, but his poor post-season play this spring has brought up questions about his value. He tied for second on the team with five goals, but all of them were scored in just three games.
“It wasn’t great, obviously,” Vanek said. “(Friday) was tough waking up because I knew I could have made a difference, and I just wasn't there.”
He wasn’t injured in the playoffs, but said once he was demoted from the first line he failed to develop chemistry with other players.
Vanek said the door remains open for a return to Montreal.
Last season with the Canadiens, New York Islanders and Buffalo Sabres, Vanek scored 27 goals and 41 assists in 78 games.
PRICE MAY HAVE BEEN ALL RIGHT
Had the Montreal Canadiens reached the Stanley Cup final, the injured Carey Price thinks he could have returned to the lineup.
Price was knocked out of the Eastern Conference final in Game 1 after a collision with New York Rangers forward Chris Kreider. Price’s lower-body injury forced Dustin Tokarski to take over in the Habs net.
Price told reporters Saturday the injury won’t require surgery and that he’s lucky it wasn’t worse than it was. Before the series ended, Price was able to practice in full gear and take some shots.
He was also asked about Kreider’s intent on the play that injured him.
“I don’t think he did it intentionally, but he didn’t try to miss me either,” Price said.
WILD ABOUT YEO
The Minnesota Wild signed coach Mike Yeo to a multi-year contract extension Saturday.
Yeo took over as coach in 2011-12 and led the Wild to the playoffs the past two seasons.
Minnesota won a first-round playoff series this year for the first time since 2003, defeating the Colorado Avalanche in seven games before losing to the Chicago Blackhawks in six games in the next round.
Yeo’s record with the Wild is 104-82-26, a .552 winning percentage in three seasons. Minnesota finished with a 43-27-12 record in 2013-14.
“Mike has done a very good job the last three seasons as our head coach and we look forward to his leadership going forward,” Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher said in a statement.
Yeo coached the Wild’s AHL team before assuming his current role. He previously worked as an assistant coach for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
“I am very excited to continue to coach the Minnesota Wild and pursue a Stanley Cup for the State of Hockey,” Yeo said. “Our fan support has been amazing and it went to a new level during the playoffs this season. We are all motivated to reward them.”
If Martin Brodeur wants to remain a member of the New Jersey Devils, that’s OK by coach Pete DeBoer.
“Those decisions are made above me, but if Lou (Lamoriello and Mardy decide that it’s best for everybody, absolutely we’d welcome him back,” DeBoer told The Star-Ledger.
If Brodeur, 42, returns to the Devils – he has indicated he wishes to continue his career – then he will do so as a backup. Cory Schneider outplayed the veteran netminder most of last season and thereby earned more starts.
Brodeur previously said he’s ready to hit the free-agent market if the Devils can’t meet his needs.
“It all depends on what is on the table, whether it’s in New Jersey or somewhere else. I’m open-minded about it,” Brodeur said in March. “I’m looking for specific things some teams probably can’t give me. And that’s understandable at my age. But if I feel I can play and people want me, we’ll see.”