Veteran forward Thomas Vanek brings another consistent goal scorer to a Columbus Blue Jackets team that has struggled with production while staying in the playoff race.
The 34-year-old Vanek was traded to Columbus from the Vancouver Canucks on Monday for forwards Jussi Jokinen and Tyler Motte.
Vanek, a pending unrestricted free agent playing on a one-year deal, is tied for second on the Canucks in scoring this season with 17 goals and 24 assists in 61 games this season. The 13-year pro has 350 goals and 388 assists in 946 NHL games.
“Thomas Vanek is probably one of the best power-play players in the league and a consistent goal scorer and can add some offense to our team,” Columbus general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said.
Vanek will join the team in Los Angeles for Thursday night’s game against the Kings.
Monday’s trade deadline arrived with the Blue Jackets picking up Vanek, center Mark Letestu and defenseman Ian Cole without giving up any important pieces of their long-term plan.
Earlier in the day, the Blue Jackets picked up Cole from Ottawa for center Nick Moutrey and a 2020 third-round draft pick. It’s the second time in three days that Cole has been moved after Ottawa acquired the 29-year-old on Friday from Pittsburgh for Derick Brassard.
“He’s a competitive defenseman,” Kekalainen said. “He can play an aggressive game, in your face. He’s very strong, good in front of the net. Keeps the game simple, moves the puck well. He’s not a guy who’s going to score a lot of points, but he’s a good defender, and that’s what we were looking for.”
On Sunday, the team got Letestu, who spent 2011-15 with the Blue Jackets, from the Nashville Predators for a 2018 fourth-round selection. He has eight goals and 11 assists with three power-play goals in 60 games with Edmonton this season.
Kekalainen said the Elk Point, Alberta, native will play on Monday night against Washington.
Cole, who won two Stanley Cups with Pittsburgh, was in the Blue Jackets locker room before the game.
“I’m very excited,” Cole said. “They have a great team here, and I’m happy to be a part of it.”
He said his role will be to “play some solid defense, play hard and get pucks to these skilled forwards as quickly as we can.”
Wawrow reported from Buffalo, New York.
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