I’m not quite sure why, but Thomas Vanek doesn’t seem to get enough credit from Sabres fans. He’s a hot topic after his beast-like performance and five point night in Thursday’s win over Boston.
15 points in the first six games of the season is Vanek’s best start ever. He had 15 at the ten game mark last season.
Vanek already is one of the best goal scorers in Sabres history and if he plays his entire career in Blue and Gold, he could pass Gilbert Perreault for number one all time.
But Vanek has evolved a great deal over his previous seven seasons, becoming more reliable in the defensive zone and improving on his playmaking skills.
First and foremost though, the Sabres first round pick in the 2003 draft has a gifted pair of hands and can score goals in many different ways.
That was on display as Vanek recorded his 8th career hat trick and singlehandedly led the Sabres to a slump busting win over the arch rival Bruins.
Vanek’s first goal came as he ripped a one timer past Tuukka Rask. Goal Number two came on a re-direct off a shot/pass from Christian Ehrhoff, a Vanek specialty on the power play. The hat trick goal was a nice display of stickhandling by Vanek in front of Rask.
Going into the weekend games, Vanek had 236 goals in his Sabres career which places him 7th all- time behind Perreault, Rick Martin, Dave Andreychuk, Danny Gare, Craig Ramsay and Mike Foligno. Vanek is 11 goals behind Foligno and 16 in back of Ramsay so he could finish the season in 5th place.
Pearreault is the gold standard for Sabres skaters. He scored a goal once every 2.32 games on the average. Granted Vanek has played in about half the games Perreault did but Vanek scores a goal once every 2.34 games.
If you look at Vanek from a league perspective, his 236 goals are the 7th most by any player since his rookie season of 2005-2006. The only players who have scored more goals than the native of Austria over the last seven plus seasons are: Alexander Ovechkin, Ilya Kovalchuk, Dany Heatley, Jarome Iginla, Eric Staal and Patrick Marleau.
Yet another reason to appreciate Vanek is his ability to come up big against one of the best teams on the Sabres schedule, year after year. In 46 career games against the Bruins, Vanek is averaging more than a point game with 28 goals and 26 assists for 54 points.