MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO/AP) – The Minnesota Wild announced Tuesday they’ve signed free agent left winger Thomas Vanek to a three-year contract. NHL free agency started at 11 a.m. Tuesday.

Vanek, who played his college hockey for the University of Minnesota, had been a standout winger for the Buffalo Sabres for nine seasons. The 30-year-old Austrian wing will get a chance to have a stable NHL home after playing for three teams last season. He started the season with the Buffalo Sabres and went on to play for the New York Islanders and Montreal Canadiens. Vanek finished the season with 27 goals and 68 points.

It’s another big free agent signing, two years after the Wild signed Zach Parise and Ryan Suter to a pair of 13-year, $98 million contracts.

Vanek, who resides in Stillwater, entered the NHL offseason as one of the top available free agents in the league. He helped lead the Gophers to the 2001 national championship.

Buffalo drafted him No. 5 overall in 2003 and he has 277 career goals and 556 points.

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