Vanek during his tenure with Buffalo
January 19, 1984 |
Baden bei Wien, Austria
|Height||6 ft 2 in (188 cm)|
|Weight||210 lb (95 kg; 15 st 0 lb)|
|NHL Draft||5th overall, 2003
Thomas Vanek (born January 19, 1984) is an Austrian professional ice hockey left winger currently playing for the Minnesota Wild of the National Hockey League (NHL). Vanek was drafted by the Buffalo Sabres fifth overall in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, making him the highest drafted Austrian in NHL history.
Vanek was born in Baden bei Wien, Austria, to Slovak mother Jarmila and Czech father Zdeněk, who emigrated from the communist Czechoslovakia to Austria in 1982. He grew up in Zell am See (Salzburg) and in Graz (Styria), where his father played professional ice hockey. In 1998, at the age of 14, he moved to the United States, where he attended and graduated from O'Gorman Catholic High School while playing junior hockey for the Sioux Falls Stampede.
After playing junior hockey for the Sioux Falls Stampede of the United States Hockey League (USHL), Vanek joined the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers, leading the team in goals (31), assists (31) and points (62) in the 2002–03 season. In part due to his prolific scoring touch, the Golden Gophers won the 2003 NCAA National Championship. Vanek was named MVP of the Frozen Four tournament, scoring the game-winning goals in both the semifinal against Michigan in overtime and in the final against New Hampshire. He was also named Minnesota's team MVP for 2003, becoming the first freshman to receive the honor. He scored the most points by a Golden Gopher freshman in 2003 since Aaron Broten who scored 72 total points in 1979–80. He was the first freshman to lead the team in scoring since Mike Antonovich in 1969–70. His 31 goals also led all NCAA freshmen in goal scoring, and was fourth in the entire country. He was also the 2003 WCHA Rookie of the Year, the third Golden Gopher to win the award.
Vanek was a member of the Austrian national team in the 2004 IIHF World Championships, where he collected seven points in six games (two goals and five assists). Vanek led the Golden Gophers in goals (26) and points (51) for the second-straight season and finished fifth in points among Division I leaders with 51. Vanek was the Twin Cities Best College Athlete for 2004.
Vanek spent 2004–05 with the Sabres' American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, the Rochester Americans, recording 68 points in 74 games and helped Rochester to the best record in the AHL. Vanek finished second on the team in points, 11 points behind Chris Taylor, but led the team in goals with 42 and in power play goals with 25. He finished second among rookies in points and led all rookies in goals scored, the latter of which was second in the league among all players.
Vanek signed a three-year deal with Buffalo on September 3, 2004, and began playing for the Sabres in 2005–06 after a season with their AHL affiliate. He had a promising rookie season with 25 goals and 48 points in 81 games for the Sabres. His performance tailed off in the playoffs, managing two goals in ten games.
Vanek recorded his best statistical season, the following year in 2006–07. He played in all 82 regular season games for the Sabres, scoring 43 goals, tied for fifth in the league, and 41 assists. He also finished an NHL best +47, earning the NHL Plus/Minus Award. Upon the expiration of his entry-level contract during the 2007 off-season, Vanek signed a seven-year, $50 million offer sheet from the Edmonton Oilers. The Sabres, having lost Chris Drury and Daniel Brière as free agents that off-season, immediately matched the offer sheet, thus keeping Vanek under contract until at least the end of the 2013–14 season. Despite his lucrative new contract, Vanek's production dipped to 64 points in 2007–08.
In the midst of a more productive year, however, Vanek was named to his first NHL All-Star Game in 2009 in Montreal. He helped the East to a 12–11 shootout victory over the West. Earlier in the season, on December 13, 2008, Vanek helped the Sabres reach a milestone by scoring the 10,000th goal in franchise history. Following the All-Star Game, on February 4, 2009, Vanek carved a unique little slice of NHL history with a natural hat-trick to cap the Sabres' 5–0 cruise past the Toronto Maple Leafs in HSBC Arena. It was also Vanek’s fourth consecutive natural hat-trick, matching an NHL record set by Cy Denneny between 1923 and 1924 with the old Ottawa Senators. Later that week, on February 7, Vanek took a slapshot from Anton Volchenkov of the Ottawa Senators, fracturing his jaw. He underwent surgery the next day and was announced to be out of the lineup for three-to-four weeks. At the time of the injury, Vanek was third in the league goal-scoring. At the end of the 2008–09 season, Vanek would score a total of 40 goals with 24 assists, totaling 64 points. He led the NHL in powerplay goals with 20.
The 2009–10 season also started on a sour note, as Vanek sustained an upper body injury after scoring two goals in a 6–2 win against the Detroit Red Wings on October 13. Vanek had scored three goals in four games up to that point. On March 10, 2010, he scored four goals against Ottawa (one on a penalty shot) in the first two periods.
New York Islanders and Montreal Canadiens
On October 27, 2013, Vanek was traded to the New York Islanders for Matt Moulson, a conditional 2014 first-round draft pick and a 2015 second-round draft pick. He immediately joined the team's top line alongside John Tavares and Kyle Okposo. On February 4, 2014, Vanek confirmed that he had turned down a contract extension offer from the Islanders. The contract was reportedly for seven years and $50 million.
On March 5, 2014, Vanek was dealt to the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for Sebastian Collberg and a second-round draft pick. On March 19, 2014, he scored his first three goals for the team – a hat trick in a game against the Colorado Avalanche that they went on to win 6–3. However, Vanek was noted for his lackluster performance during the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs, including scoring just five even-strength points over 17 games. In late June, Canadiens General Manager Marc Bergevin announced that the team would not be resigning Vanek, allowing him to become an unrestricted free agent.
On July 1, 2014, Vanek signed a three-year contract with the Minnesota Wild for $5.5 million in the first year, $6.5 million in the second year and $7.5 million in the third year, for a total of $19.5 million. His contract also included a no-trade clause.
On July 21, 2014, Vanek's name was listed in records seized from The Marina Restaurant & Bar, a Rochester, New York, facility suspected of running an illegal gambling ring. For his part, Vanek denies all wrongdoing, is cooperating with authorities and does not expect to be charged with any crime.
Regular season and playoffs
|1999–00||Sioux Falls Stampede||USHL||35||15||18||33||12||3||0||1||1||8|
|2000–01||Sioux Falls Stampede||USHL||20||19||10||29||15||8||5||4||9||2|
|2001–02||Sioux Falls Stampede||USHL||53||46||45||91||54||3||0||0||0||9|
|2002–03||Minnesota Golden Gophers||NCAA, WCHA||45||31||31||62||60||—||—||—||—||—|
|2003–04||Minnesota Golden Gophers||NCAA, WCHA||38||26||25||51||72||—||—||—||—||—|
|2013–14||New York Islanders||NHL||47||17||27||44||34||—||—||—||—||—|
Awards and honours
|Competitor for Austria|
|IIHF World Championships|
|Gold||2008 Austria||Division I Group A|
|IIHF World U20 Championships|
|Gold||2003 Slovenia||Division I Group B|
|Silver||2002 Austria||Division I Group A|
|All-WCHA Rookie Team||2002–03|
|All-WCHA Second Team||2002–03|
|All-NCAA All-Tournament Team||2003|||
|All-WCHA Second Team||2003–04|
|AHCA West Second-Team All-American||2003–04|
|NHL YoungStars Game||2006–07|
|NHL Plus/Minus Award||2006–07|
|NHL Second All-Star Team||2006–07|
|NHL All Star Game||2009|
|NHL Leader in Power Play Goals (20)||2008-09|
- GettingToKnow: #26 Thomas VANEK
- Allen, Kevin (July 6, 2007). "Sabres keep Vanek by matching Oilers' $50M offer". USA Today. Retrieved May 25, 2010.
- "Sabres lose Vanek to broken jaw". Toronto Star. 2009-02-09. Retrieved 2009-02-11.
- "Vanek to miss 'weeks'". Buffalo Sabres. 2009-10-13. Retrieved 2009-10-14.
- "Thomas Vanek News: Vanek will join the Graz 99ers in his native Austria during the NHL lockout, The Buffalo News reports.". The Score. Retrieved 8 January 2014.
- "Landeskog, Markov, Vanek head to European teams". USA Today. Retrieved 8 January 2014.
- "Buffalo Sabres name Steve Ott and Thomas Vanek team captains". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 8 January 2014.
- Stubis, Brain (October 27, 2013). "Thomas Vanek traded to Islanders for Matt Moulson, picks". CBS Sports. Retrieved October 28, 2013.
- Rosen, Dan (January 7, 2014). "Five Questions: Vanek happy to be with Islanders". National Hockey League. Retrieved 8 January 2014.
- "Thomas Vanek rejects New York Islanders' offer, trade could be next". National Hockey League. February 4, 2014. Retrieved February 5, 2014.
- "Vanek traded from Islanders to Canadiens - 2014 Trade Deadline". National Hockey League. March 5, 2014. Retrieved March 5, 2014.
- "Vanek’s hat trick lifts Habs over Avalanche in Roy’s return to Montreal". The Globe and Mail. March 18, 2014. Retrieved March 19, 2014.
- "Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin Confirms Thomas Vanek Won’t Return To Team". New England Sports Network. Jun 27, 2014. Retrieved July 4, 2014.
- "Signing in Minnesota beyond Vaneks wildest dreams". National Hockey League. 2014-07-01. Retrieved 2014-07-01.
- "Sabres' Vanek on his way back to Buffalo after time playing in Austria ends". The Buffalo News. Retrieved 11 February 2014.
- Craig, Gary and Kevin Oklobzija (July 22, 2014). Thomas Vanek questioned in Charlotte gambling case. Rochester Democrat & Chronicle. Retrieved July 22, 2014.
- "NCAA Frozen Four Records". NCAA.org. Retrieved 2013-06-19.
- Thomas Vanek's career statistics at The Internet Hockey Database
- Thomas Vanek's player profile at NHL.com
- Thomas Vanek - Official Site (German)
- TSN.ca story on offer from Edmonton, July 6, 2007
- Sabres notebook: Vanek's hat trick is a natural wonder, February 5, 2009
|Awards and achievements|
|NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player
|Buffalo Sabres first round draft pick
|Austrian Sportsman of the year
Wade Redden and Michal Rozsival
|Winner of the NHL Plus/Minus Award
|Buffalo Sabres captain
(co-captain with Steve Ott)