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Vanek could be one of the best

Vanek beats Esche in 2007
After two seasons in the NHL Thomas Vanek is a good player who had a great season.  The Buffalo Sabres are counting on him to be a great player after matching the $50 million seven year offer made by Edmonton Oilers GM Kevin Lowe.  There is still a lot for Vanek to prove but he became the face of the franchise a couple of weeks ago.  It's a stretch to say he will be great but he obviously has that potential.

Last season Vanek put up huge numbers amassing 43 goals and 41 assists for 84 points and he played all 82 games.  A season like that puts him in the company of some of the greatest players to ever play for the Sabres.  At the end of last season Vanek became only the 13th player in franchise history to score over 80 points in a season.  The list of players includes players like Gilbert Perreault (9 times), Danny Gare (3 times), Dale Hawerchuk (4 times) and Dave Andreychuk (4 times).  That is good company for a player to be in.

Vanek has the potential to surpass all of them by enjoying success at such a young age but the true test begins next season.  For the first time in his short NHL career Vanek will be asked to lead the team.  The previous two seasons he was just another face in the crowd with players like Chris Drury and Daniel Briere in front of him but now it's Vanek and Roy who will be asked to lead the franchise.  The possibilities are endless for Vanek but it all comes down to how much he wants it.

All signs point towards a long career for Vanek based on his history at every level of hockey.  Vanek played three seasons in the USHL with the Sioux Falls Stampede before moving on to the University of Minnesota for two seasons.  While in Sioux Falls Vanek was close to a point per game guy for two seasons and had 46 goals and 45 assists in his third season.  At the University of Minnesota he continued to dominate the competition and had well over a point per game in his two seasons.  

After two seasons at Minnesota Vanek left the Golden Gophers to become a pro and joined the Rochester Americans.  In Rochester Vanek scored 42 goals and 26 assists as a rookie.  The following season the Sabres moved him up to the NHL and we all know how things have gone.  This guy has all the markings of a superstar and barring a trade we will have an opportunity to watch him for the next seven years.