Thomas Vanek LW MIN 4 Months

Hall of Famer Guy Lafleur suggested that Montreal might be better off without Thomas Vanek.

Vanek is likely to walk as an unrestricted free agent. Montreal used him sparingly as the playoffs went on and Lafleur accused Vanek of fading under adversity. Vanek now has just 30 points in 53 career playoff games, which is a substantially slowly point-per-game pace than he's enjoyed in the regular season. All the same, he's likely to get a big contract over the summer.

Thomas Vanek LW MIN 4 Months

To nobody's surprise, the agent for Thomas Vanek confirmed Tuesday that the Austrian forward will make a decision about his future when the free agency period opens on July 1st.

It has been the league's worst kept secret that Vanek intended to test the free agents waters all season after he wouldn't engage in long-term contract talks with any of the Sabres, Islanders or Canadiens. Despite his postseason struggles, the sniper remains a good bet to break the bank this summer.

Thomas Vanek LW MIN 4 Months

Thomas Vanek blamed his lack of production in the playoffs on poor chemistry with his new linemates.

However, he wasn't pointing the finger at his teammates. He blamed himself for that not happening. "I'm a big believer in chemistry," he explained. "I started in Buffalo and I went to the Island, where I got comfortable with Johnny (Tavares) and (Kyle) Okposo and our line took off and then your game takes off. When I first got here, I struggled a bit and then I got moved to Davey (Desharnais) and Patch (Max Pacioretty) and I think as a line we were great, one of the best lines. Then I got taken off and I struggled to find myself with a new line. I played with (Tomas Plekanec) for most of the playoffs and it didn't work. We are, I believe, both very good players, but it didn't work. We're not on the same page, just different games." He averaged more than three shots a game in the regular season, but had only 28 shots in 17 playoff games. Vanek will test the market as an unrestricted free agent next month.

Thomas Vanek LW MIN 4 Months

As expected, Thomas Vanek is projected to hit the open market as an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

He said he wouldn't rule out Montreal as an option, but he also said the same thing about the New York Islanders after he rejected their seven-year, $50-million offer. It would also be surprising to see Vanek return to the Canadiens after he was demoted to the fourth line at the end of the team's playoff run. He registered 27 goals and 68 points in 78 games with Buffalo, New York and Montreal this past season. He also had five goals and five assists in 17 postseason matches.

Thomas Vanek LW MIN 4 Months

Thomas Vanek played just over 12 minutes in Thursday's 1-0 series-ending loss to the New York Rangers.

Vanek's time in Montreal likely won't be remembered fondly, as he registered a measly two assists in six games against the Rangers and totalled 10 points in 17 postseason contests overall. The free agent to-be will certainly be wearing another team's colors when the season begins next fall.

Thomas Vanek LW MIN 4 Months

Thomas Vanek recorded an assist for the Canadiens in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Final on Tuesday.

That didn't stop Vanek from setting a new career-low in the 2014 postseason with just 8:55 minutes played. He's seen his role diminish substantially over the course of the playoffs. The Canadiens acquired him from the Islanders at the deadline, but he'll probably leave the team as an unrestricted free agent this summer.

Thomas Vanek LW MIN 4 Months

Thomas Vanek skated on the third line at practice on Saturday.

He joined Lars Eller and Rene Bourque during the session. Vanek logged just 11:07 of ice time in Game 3 and he played 11:41 in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Final. He is tied for the club lead with five goals and he has nine points in 14 games. He earned his first point in his last four outings when he picked up an assist on Thursday.

Thomas Vanek LW MIN 4 Months

Thomas Vanek recorded an assist in Montreal's 3-2 overtime win on Thursday.

Vanek has seen his role significantly reduced recently and that was true in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final. He set a new personal-low for the 2014 playoffs by logging just 11:07 minutes.

Thomas Vanek LW MIN 4 Months

Thomas Vanek skated on the fourth line during Wednesday's practice.

Vanek's playing time fell to 11:41 minutes on Monday, so it's entirely possible that he actually will serve as a bottom-six forward in Game 3. In that scenario, his probable linemates are Daniel Briere and Brandon Prust

Thomas Vanek LW MIN 4 Months

Thomas Vanek logged only 11:41 of ice time in Game 2 against the New York Rangers.

He has been inconsistent in his play during the postseason, which shouldn't be surprising to anyone that has drafted him in the past. Vanek typically fluctuates between hot and cold streaks. He didn't have his head in the game for most of Monday's contest, which led to his benching. Vanek has no points, two shots and a minus-3 rating in his last three contests.