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Thomas Vanek
TVanek.jpg
Born January 19, 1984 (1984-01-19) (age 35)
Baden bei Wien, Austria
Height 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Weight 208 lb (94 kg; 14 st 12 lb)
Position Left Wing
Shoots Right
NHL team
Former teams
New York Islanders
Buffalo Sabres
National team Template:Country data AUT
NHL Draft 5th overall, 2003
Buffalo Sabres
Playing career 2004–present

Thomas Vanek (born on January 19, 1984) is an Austrian professional ice hockey left winger currently playing for the New York Islanders of the National Hockey League (NHL).

He was drafted by the Buffalo Sabres fifth overall in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft which made him the highest draft pick in Austrian history.

Playing CareerEdit

Early Playing CareerEdit

After playing junior hockey for the Sioux Falls Stampede of the United States Hockey League (USHL), Thomas 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.

Thomas 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.

Thomas 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.

Thomas' 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.

Thomas 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).

He 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. He was the Twin Cities Best College Athlete for 2004.

Thomas 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.

Thomas 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 SabresEdit

On September 3, 2004, Thomas 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.

Thomas 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, he signed a seven-year $50 million offer sheet from the Edmonton Oilers.

The Sabres (having lost Chris Drury and Danny Briere 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, Thomas' production dipped to 64 points in 2007–08.

In the midst of a more productive year, however, Thomas 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), Thomas helped the Sabres reach a milestone by scoring the 10,000th goal in franchise history.

Following the All-Star Game, on February 4, 2009, Thomas 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 his 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, Thomas 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, he was third in the league goal-scoring. At the end of the 2008-2009 season, Thomas 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 Thomas sustained an upper body injury after scoring two goals in a 6-2 win against the Detroit Red Wings on October 13.

Thomas had scored 3 goals in 4 games up to that point. On 4-10-10, he scored 4 goals against Ottawa (one on a penalty shot) in the first two periods.

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

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

New York IslandersEdit

On October 27, 2013, Thomas was traded to the New York Islanders for Matt Moulson, a conditional 2014 1st round draft pick and a 2015 2nd round draft pick.

He would immediately join the team's top line alongside John Tavares and Kyle Okposo.

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
USHL totals 108 70 73 151 81 14 5 5 10 19
NHL totals 598 254 243 497 362 36 15 5 20 18

Awards & AchievementsEdit

  • 2007 NHL YoungStars Game
  • 2007 NHL Plus/Minus Award
  • 2007 Second All-Star Team
  • 2009 NHL All Star Game

Personal LifeEdit

Thomas' parents are Jarmila (who is of Slovak descent) and Zdenek (who is of Czech descent and 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.

Thomas moved to the United States in 1998 when he was 14 years old. He attended & graduated from O'Gorman High School where he played junior hockey for the Sioux Falls Stampede.

Thomas and his wife Ashley have three sons: Blake Thomas and twins Luke Robert & Kade Ashton. They also have a dog named Diesel.

In Thomas' free time, he frequently DJ's at local clubs after team victories.

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