Thomas Vanek
Red Wings Vanek
Position Left wing
Shoots Right
6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
218 lb (99 kg)
NHL Team
F. Teams
Florida Panthers
Detroit Red Wings
Minnesota Wild
Montreal Canadiens
New York Islanders
Buffalo Sabres
Nationality Flag of Austria Austrian
Born January 19 1984 (1984-01-19) (age 33),
Baden bei Wien, Austria
NHL Draft 5th overall, 2003
Buffalo Sabres
Pro Career 2004 – present

Thomas Vanek (born 19 January 1984) is an Austrian professional ice hockey left wing currently playing for the Florida Panthers of the National Hockey League (NHL). He has played for the Buffalo Sabres, New York IslandersMontreal CanadiensMinnesota Wild, and Detroit Red Wings. Vanek was drafted by the Buffalo Sabres fifth overall in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, making him the highest drafted Austrian in NHL history.

Early lifeEdit

Vanek was born in Baden bei Wien, Austria, to Slovak mother Jarmila and Czech father Zdeněk, who moved in 1982 from Czechoslovakia to Austria. 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 Canada.

Playing careerEdit

Pre-NHL yearsEdit

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 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' AHL affiliate 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.

Sabres yearsEdit

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 2 goals in 10 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 rookie contract during the 2007 off-season, Vanek signed a seven-year $50 million offer sheet from the Edmonton Oilers. The Sabres 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 2008-2009 season Vanek would score a total of 40 goals with 24 assists totaling 64 points. At the end of the season Vanek 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, he has since returned. Vanek had scored 3 goals in 4 games up to that point. 4-10-10 Vanek scored 4 goals against Ottawa (one on a penalty shot) in the first two periods.

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

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

New York Islanders and Montreal Canadiens Edit

On 27 October 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 4 February 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 5 March 2014, Vanek was dealt to the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for Sebastian Collberg and a second-round draft pick. On 19 March 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.

Minnesota Wild Edit

Vanek Wild

Vanek with the Wild in 2015

On 1 July 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.

With the Wild up against the salary cap and having endured an unsuccessful stint with the Wild, Vanek's last year of his contract was bought-out by Minnesota on 24 June 2016.

Detroit Red Wings Edit

On 1 July 2016, Vanek signed a one-year, $2.6 million contract with the Detroit Red Wings reuniting him with Co-Captain Steve Ott when a member with the Sabres.

Florida Panthers Edit

Despite having a succesful season with the Red Wings, he was dealt to the Florida Panthers in exchange for Dylan McIlrath and a conditional third-round draft pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft.

Personal life Edit

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

On 21 July 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.

Career statisticsEdit

    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 U. of Minnesota NCAA 45 31 31 62 60
2003–04 U. of Minnesota NCAA 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 38 10 0 4 4 2
2015-16 Minnesota Wild NHL 74 18 23 41 22
2016-17 Detroit Red Wings NHL 48 15 23 38 16
NHL totals 389 172 141 313 264 29 10 5 15 18

International Edit

Year Team Event Result GP G A Pts PIM
2002 Austria WJC-D1 12th 5 5 6 11 2
2003 Austria WJC-D1 11th 5 9 4 13 10
2004 Austria WJC 9th 6 3 1 4 37
2004 Austria WC 11th 6 2 5 7 0
2006 Austria OlyQ NQ 3 1 0 1 0
2008 Austria WC-D1 17th 5 5 5 10 6
2009 Austria WC 14th 6 1 3 4 2
2013 Austria WC 15th 7 4 2 6 2
2014 Austria Oly 10th 4 0 1 1 4
2016 Team Europe WCH Silver medal icon 6 0 1 1 2
Junior totals 16 17 11 28 49
Senior totals 37 13 17 30 16

Awards and honours Edit

Award Year
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

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

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