(Born January 19, 1984) -- How many chances do Sabres fans get to pretend they are scouts for their favorite team? The story of Thomas Vanek presented that opportunity.
Vanek was born in Austria, and he moved to the United States at the age of 14. Vanek finished high school and moved on to the University of Minnesota. There he helped the Golden Gophers reach the Frozen Four ... which was played in Buffalo.
Vanek was considered one of the top scorers in the nation, and local fans knew that he’d be a great fit in Buffalo. So they were pleased when the Sabres grabbed him in the 2003 Entry Draft.
The winger agreed to a three-year deal in 2004 after spending another season in college. A year in the minors didn’t hurt, as Vanek scored 42 goals for Rochester in 2004-05.
He arrived in Buffalo in the fall of 2005, and scored 25 goals as a rookie. He’s been a fixture here ever since, signing a rich contract in 2007. Vanek was coming off a 43-goal season at that point. He’s had at least 48 points in every NHL season to date.
--- Budd Bailey