Thomas Vanek

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Thomas Vanek
Thomas Vanek-2011.jpg
Vanek pictured during his time with Buffalo
Born (1984-01-19) January 19, 1984 (age 32)
Baden bei Wien, Austria
Height 6 ft 2 in (188 cm)
Weight 210 lb (95 kg; 15 st 0 lb)
Position Left Wing
Shoots Right
NHL team
Former teams
Minnesota Wild
National team  Austria
NHL Draft 5th overall, 2003
Buffalo Sabres
Playing career 2004–present

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). He has also played for the Buffalo Sabres, New York Islanders, and Montreal Canadiens.

Vanek was drafted by the Buffalo Sabres fifth overall in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, making him the highest drafted Austrian in NHL history.

Early life[edit]

Vanek was born in Baden bei Wien, Austria, to Slovak mother Jarmila and Czech father Zdeněk,[1] 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.

Playing career[edit]

Pre-NHL years[edit]

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.

Buffalo Sabres[edit]

Vanek in October 2006 playing for the Buffalo Sabres

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.[2] 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.[3]

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.[4] 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.

On October 1, 2012, Vanek signed with the Graz 99ers in Austria to play for them until November 4, 2012, during the 2012–13 NHL lockout.[5][6]

On October 1 2013, the Buffalo Sabres names Vanek and Steve Ott captains; Vanek would wear the "C" for home games while Ott would wear the "C" for road games.[7]

New York Islanders and Montreal Canadiens[edit]

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.[8] He immediately joined the team's top line alongside John Tavares and Kyle Okposo.[9] 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.[10]

On March 5, 2014, Vanek was dealt to the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for Sebastian Collberg and a second-round draft pick.[11] 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.[12] However, Vanek was noted for his lackluster performance during the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs, including scoring just five even-strength points over 17 games.[13] 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.[13]

Minnesota Wild[edit]

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.[14]

Personal life[edit]

Vanek and his wife Ashley have three sons.[15] They live in Stillwater, Minnesota.

Gambling investigation[edit]

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.[16]

Career statistics[edit]

Regular season and playoffs[edit]

    Regular season   Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
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 WCHA 45 31 31 62 60
2003–04 Minnesota Golden Gophers WCHA 38 26 25 51 72
2004–05 Rochester Americans AHL 74 42 26 68 62 5 2 3 5 10
2005–06 Buffalo Sabres NHL 81 25 23 48 72 10 2 0 2 6
2006–07 Buffalo Sabres NHL 82 43 41 84 40 16 6 4 10 10
2007–08 Buffalo Sabres NHL 82 36 28 64 64
2008–09 Buffalo Sabres NHL 73 40 24 64 44
2009–10 Buffalo Sabres NHL 71 28 25 53 42 3 2 1 3 2
2010–11 Buffalo Sabres NHL 80 32 41 73 24 7 5 0 5 0
2011–12 Buffalo Sabres NHL 78 26 35 61 52
2012–13 Graz 99ers EBEL 11 5 10 15 4
2012–13 Buffalo Sabres NHL 38 20 21 41 20
2013–14 Buffalo Sabres NHL 13 4 5 9 4
2013–14 New York Islanders NHL 47 17 27 44 34
2013–14 Montreal Canadiens NHL 18 6 9 15 8 17 5 5 10 4
2014–15 Minnesota Wild NHL 80 21 31 52 37 10 0 4 4 2
NHL totals 743 298 310 608 441 63 20 14 34 24

Awards and honours[edit]

Medal record
Competitor for  Austria
Ice hockey
IIHF World Championships
Gold medal – first place 2008 Austria Division I Group A
IIHF World U20 Championships
Gold medal – first place 2003 Slovenia Division I Group B
Silver medal – second place 2002 Austria Division I Group A
Award Year
All-WCHA Rookie Team 2002–03
All-WCHA Second Team 2002–03
All-NCAA All-Tournament Team 2003 [17]
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

See also[edit]


  1. ^ GettingToKnow: #26 Thomas VANEK
  2. ^ Allen, Kevin (July 6, 2007). "Sabres keep Vanek by matching Oilers' $50M offer". USA Today. Retrieved May 25, 2010. 
  3. ^ "Sabres lose Vanek to broken jaw". Toronto Star. 2009-02-09. Retrieved 2009-02-11. 
  4. ^ "Vanek to miss 'weeks'". Buffalo Sabres. 2009-10-13. Retrieved 2009-10-14. 
  5. ^ "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. 
  6. ^ "Landeskog, Markov, Vanek head to European teams". USA Today. Retrieved 8 January 2014. 
  7. ^ "Buffalo Sabres name Steve Ott and Thomas Vanek team captains". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 8 January 2014. 
  8. ^ Stubis, Brain (October 27, 2013). "Thomas Vanek traded to Islanders for Matt Moulson, picks". CBS Sports. Retrieved October 28, 2013. 
  9. ^ Rosen, Dan (January 7, 2014). "Five Questions: Vanek happy to be with Islanders". National Hockey League. Retrieved 8 January 2014. 
  10. ^ "Thomas Vanek rejects New York Islanders' offer, trade could be next". National Hockey League. February 4, 2014. Retrieved February 5, 2014. 
  11. ^ "Vanek traded from Islanders to Canadiens - 2014 Trade Deadline". National Hockey League. March 5, 2014. Retrieved March 5, 2014. 
  12. ^ "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. 
  13. ^ a b "Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin Confirms Thomas Vanek Won’t Return To Team". New England Sports Network. Jun 27, 2014. Retrieved July 4, 2014. 
  14. ^ "Signing in Minnesota beyond Vaneks wildest dreams". National Hockey League. 2014-07-01. Retrieved 2014-07-01. 
  15. ^ "Sabres' Vanek on his way back to Buffalo after time playing in Austria ends". The Buffalo News. Retrieved 11 February 2014. 
  16. ^ Craig, Gary and Kevin Oklobzija (July 22, 2014). Thomas Vanek questioned in Charlotte gambling case. Rochester Democrat & Chronicle. Retrieved July 22, 2014.
  17. ^ "NCAA Frozen Four Records" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-06-19. 

External links[edit]

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Grant Potulny
NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player
Succeeded by
Adam Berkhoel
Preceded by
Daniel Paille
Buffalo Sabres first round draft pick
Succeeded by
Drew Stafford
Preceded by
Benjamin Raich
Austrian Sportsman of the year
Succeeded by
Thomas Morgenstern
Preceded by
Wade Redden and Michal Rozsival
Winner of the NHL Plus/Minus Award
Succeeded by
Pavel Datsyuk
Preceded by
Jason Pominville
Buffalo Sabres captain
with Steve Ott

Succeeded by
Steve Ott