The Athletic’s Max Bultman discusses Thomas Vanek’s mentoring ability as a player who can step up in that department on and off the ice given Henrik Zetterberg’s retirement:
“I think just playing with a player that’s so highly skilled like him just makes the game so much easier,” [Andreas] Athanasiou said Saturday. “When the puck’s on his stick, kind of don’t have to worry too much, and know that it’s going to be in the right spot.”
Athanasiou may now be further along the NHL development curve than he was a couple years ago, but adding him back with a player of this caliber could really help bolster his production, especially as he inherits more responsibility elsewhere. While defense could be an issue in pairing the two, this is about taking a player with gobs of offensive potential and pairing him with someone who can truly help maximize it.
And that’s before we’ve even really gotten to [Filip] Zadina. It sounds like they’ll play together during some of the preseason, and if the Red & White game was an indication, the draw of that combination should be clear.
“Vanek creates scoring chances all over the place, it’s just what he does, so when you play with him you end up getting a lot of scoring chances,” [coach Jeff] Blashill said after the game. “And Zadina has consistently finished. I think there’s more to his game than just scoring goals, but I think he’s somebody that’s been billed an excellent goal scorer and he’s done that so far. It was an unreal play by Vanek and AA, but at the end of the day someone’s gotta put it in the net, and he put it in the net.”