It is no secret the Minnesota Wild are going to target impending UFA Thomas Vanek in the offseason. He live in the Twin Cities and has proven to be a reliable goal scorer. My guess is that he would cost something like $8.0m per season over 5 years. Vanek would probably like to play here, but is he the best option for this team? I say no.
I have never been a huge Vanek guy, but I cannot put my finger on the reasons. He does score, that much is without argument, but his best years are behind him. Goal scorers tend to peak in their mid 20's and Vanek turns 30 in January. To lock up $8.0m for at least 4 or 5 seasons would mean paying for his reduced production.
I say use your cap space to acquire a solid goaltender like Jonas Hiller or maybe even Ryan Miller. Both are UFAs in 2014 and Hiller is still fairly young. Miller is a bit older and a change in scenery would benefit him greatly. Both would cost around $4.0m per season. Then use your remaining money for a puck-moving defenseman like Matt Niskanen.
A 2014-15 Wild team with Hiller/Miller and Niskanen is better than one with Vanek. Niklas Backstrom cannot guide this team on a lengthy playoff run; you need a guy in net that can steal a game. Hiller can do this and we know Miller can as well.