Thomas Vanek: 2009-2010 Report Card

It's time to put the finishing touches on the 2009-2010 season for the Buffalo Sabres. Here is a complete report card of every single player that played any amount of time with the Sabres this season. The journey will begin with Chris Butler and conclude in almost a month with Thomas Vanek. Thanks to Japers Rink and Mile High Hockey for the inspiration.

It's Thomas Vanek's turn.


Thomas Vanek

#26 / Left Wing / Buffalo Sabres

6-2

207

Jan 19, 1984

Contract Situation: $7.143 million cap hit in 2010; four years left on current contract in which he'll receive $6.4 million each season

2009 Grade: B



2010 Statistics GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT

Regular Season

Playoffs

71

3

28

2

25

1

53

3

9

1

42

2

10

0

0

0

6

0

0

0

182

10

15.4

20


Introduction: Thomas Vanek plays on the off-wing - a right-handed shot who earns a living on the left wing - because it's generally an advantage for trigger men. Alexander Ovechkin and Ilya Kovalchuk undertake the same strategy because it creates the bonus of a one-timer option, they can cut through the middle of the ice to the other side on their forehand and will aim for the corners easily. With oddly-timed injuries and inconsistency, Vanek is still working his way up to become a scorer who stands with the very best of them. He's 26-years-old and the heightened stages of his career are full-speed ahead.

Key Stat: The Austrian led the Buffalo Sabres in goals for the fourth straight season, doing it in 71 games and what has to be considered a disappointing campaign, as he scored less than 30 goals and the fewest tallies since his rookie experience. For his standards, that's average. However, when Vanek's on and has 'it' working, he's unrestrainable.

Stimulating Stat: Powerplays are to goal-poachers what penalty shots are to Ryan Miller; the real deal. Vanek has always scored at least ten markers with the extra man during a season and in his five-year livelihood, has banked 75 of his 172 total goals there - over 46 per cent for you math wizards out there. This time around, he grabbed just ten on the powerplay, his worst collection yet. But last year, he led the league in man-advantage goals (20) and two years ago, trailed Ovechkin for first spot with 19.

Famous For: Ruining Daniel Alfredsson's 1,000th game celebration in Ottawa by lighting the lamp four times on the way to a 5-2 win. Four-goal games are special no matter how you cut it, but Vanek's variety was worthy of being included in a DVD collection or a manual for young forwards who want to learn alternate forms of beating a goaltender.

Thumbs Up: Held to two and one-third of a playoff game because of Johnny Boychuk's heinous slash, Vanek was the one forward whose offensive panache could have saved Buffalo from defeat. Look on the bright side; he who laughs last, laughs loudest. Someday, Boychuk will get to tell his grandchildren the experience of letting a 3-0 series lead slide through his team's fingertips. Vanek scored seven goals in his last four full games and even with the disadvantage of returning with a banged-up ankle in Game 6, he danced through defensemen, got himself open and scored a goal. On one healthy leg, the former first-round draft pick was preferred over Derek Roy and Tim Connolly. His plus-minus was below even in the last two years largely because of how much of his production comes on the powerplay, but Vanek earned a firm plus-nine this season. Out of the regular forwards who played upwards of 40 games, Vanek owned the best goals per 60 minutes, fourth-best assists ratio and the top points per hour of on-ice time. The lines he was chosen for scored much more than they conceded in his presence and the club as a whole got far less goals during his absence. Also, his quality of teammates were decent, but not great. Six game-winning goals and a 15.4 shooting rate, both of which were the best or just about, round out his good side.

Thumbs Down: Vanek's quality of competition wasn't the most threatening, making his small but constant dry adventures from scoring a frustration point. He shot the rubber disc to a tune of 182; the first time in his career he took fewer than 200 shots in a season. There were games that Vanek would need numerous opportunities in the offensive zone before finally slotting one in; a sign of a scorer holding the stick too hard due to heavy expectations and struggles to meet them. He's got a power forward's body, and Drew Stafford and Clarke MacArthur throwing more hits than him is an issue. Defensemen dislike marking big guys and Vanek has to teach them to understand the dangers of digging for loose pucks - make them pay the price.

Voting: On a scale of one to ten, one being the lowest and ten being the highest, grade Thomas Vanek on his season according to the expectations you had for him. If he met them, give him a five or a six. If he eclipsed them, aim for a seven or beyond. If he failed to meet them, give him a lower number relating to how poorly he missed the target.

Topics Of Discussion: Is Vanek sufficiently Buffalo's major scorer or should they add more up front? Do you believe he could score 50 goals in a season? Will he bounce back with better statistics in 2011? What does Vanek have to do in order to be a top-of-the-line striker?

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