September 27, 2013; Raleigh, NC, USA; Buffalo Sabres forward Thomas Vanek (26) skates against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Center. The Hurricanes defeated the Sabres 1-0. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Should The Sabres Bring Thomas Vanek Back To Buffalo?

It’s been 226 days since Thomas Vanek last played a game in a Buffalo Sabres uniform. After spending more than eight seasons in Buffalo, he was traded to the New York Islanders and then had a stint with the Montreal Canadiens. Now, he’s headed to the free agent market this offseason. Could the Buffalo Sabres be interested in bringing Vanek back — and should they consider it?

This season was a hit-or-miss one for Vanek. He had nine points (4-5) in 13 games with the Sabres and was one of two co-captains before the trade. His production with the Islanders was steady, garnering 44 points in 47 games. But in February, Vanek turned down a contract extension from the Islanders, intent on testing his value at the free agent market.

March would see Vanek traded for the second time in his NHL career – and the second time in a matter of less than five months. This time, he was off to the Montreal Canadiens, traded for a draft pick and a prospect.

Initially,  Vanek seemed to find his stride with the Habs, racking up 15 points in 18 regular season games. But something just wasn’t working out, and he struggled late in the offseason. Vanek failed to register even a point in the Habs’ four-game series against the NY Rangers in the Eastern Conference Finals, and at some points, there was even a question of whether or not Vanek would be scratched for some of the ECF games.

Of course, this raised speculation about a possible injury, but those claims were denied. Instead, Vanek blamed a lack of chemistry after he was taken off Montreal’s top line. Is that a fair complaint? I think if you’re going to be a star player, you need to be able to put up points regardless of who you’re on a line with. Being removed from the top line doesn’t have to mean your production declines; if that’s the case, you’ll never make it back to the top line again.

Vanek finished the postseason with 10 points in 17 games, which is obviously not bad, but his collapse at the end just won’t do. It was a disappointing finish, and one that left a sour taste in many mouths in Montreal – including in the opinion of Guy Lafleur.

Your team is never going to win with players like them who disappear when they face adversity.

“Guys like Vanek and Pacioretty, you can’t keep them on your team. They can stay home if they are not willing to pay the price,” Lafleur said in an interview with La Presse, a French reference information site. “Your team is never going to win with players like them who disappear when they face adversity.”

As the Habs cleaned out their lockers after their elimination from the playoffs, Vanek reiterated his intention to hit the free agent market.

The 30-year-old will likely have several offers this postseason. Could he end up signing back with the Sabres? Or is he more likely to end up elsewhere – perhaps in Minnesota, returning to his Gophers days? Vanek really grew up as a player in Buffalo. He was 21 when he played his first game as a member of the Sabres, and 29 at his last. Buffalo was a developmental organization for him; his tenure here saw him win a league plus-minus award, play in his first NHL All-Star Game, and wear the C as a co-captain until his trade.

When July rolls around, however, it’s likely time for both parties to keep moving on. Vanek was traded under the Regier regime, but I’m not sure if Tim Murray would be interested in backtracking like that. Meanwhile, Vanek will probably entertain offers from several teams and end up wherever he feels he has the “best chance of winning.”

So what do you think? Should the Sabres consider making Vanek an offer?

Should the Sabres try to bring Thomas Vanek back to Buffalo?

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Tags: Buffalo Sabres Thomas Vanek

  • Ron Cianciosi

    No, he doesn’t want to be here

    • Kevin

      I agree, he wanted out when he left and I don’t see any reason he would ever comeback. Time to move on. I think the organization needs that and so do the fans.

  • Greg Czechowicz

    yes dummies yes He will be the asset the Sabres need again PLEASE

  • Greg Czechowicz

    He wants to be back here he needs to prove himself yes

  • Greg Czechowicz

    definetly sign THOMAS VANEK

  • Greg Czechowicz


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    • Kevin

      Miller won’t be back with the Blues and the Kings have plenty of good goaltending. It will be interesting to see where Miller ends up though

  • Greg Czechowicz


    • Kevin

      I don’t see that at all

    • davidmuscalo

      Ott, maybe. Vanek, no!

  • chas territo

    Vanek, NO. Miller, NO, Ott, NO. All are not good enough. Vanek does not show in play offs at all other than to get his over paid check. Miller wasn’t better than average and he’s worse now. Ott, why? Go with young players and draftees. Re-tread players take valuable time away from developing players. Don’t Darcy us!!

  • wolfdoctor

    No, and Vanek doesn’t want to be here either.

  • jimbobv2

    Vanek doesn’t want to play for a team that is planning on being the worst team in the NHL in 2014-15.

  • Andrew

    someone’s living in the past *cough* greg *cough*

  • Greg Czechowicz

    so ok sign your paperboy

  • Danimal

    Far too much effort spent on a meaningless question. If the Sabres brought back a player like Vanek, all they’d prove is that, although much has changed, truly nothing has.

  • Patrice Breton

    That would be quite a chuckle. What an incredible talent … but he simply doesn’t care. If he did, he could be in the top 5 best players in the league and secure his spot in the HOF. Sadly for him, it will never happen. He does enough to warrant a big paycheck, but disappears whenever he feels like it. Signing Vanek to more than 3 years is big gamble.

  • Chris

    Vanek is not the answer… the Islanders found that out too…. too bad it took the Sabres so long… the Canadiens, as well, now have their doubts about aquiring him after they saw how he played for them….This guy has always been one of the most over rated forwards in the league….

  • Andrew Kolvek

    Someone will pay him more money than he probably deserves. It just won’t be the Sabres. His one-dimensional play would just be a detriment to the team.

  • davidmuscalo

    I said no. The Sabres are going in a new direction and Vanek is not in their plans nor should he be.