As a another disappointing season comes to an end for the Buffalo Sabres, there isn’t much reason to hope that next year will be any different. Big names are expected to find their way out as this franchise enters a full scale rebuilding phase. One key component of that rebuild could be Thomas Vanek.
Vanek’s name floated around a bit at the trade deadline, but it ended up being Jason Pominville that was dealt. Vanek could be the next key forward for the club to move. The Sabres aren’t in a position where they necessarily have to deal Vanek, but it would make a whole lot of sense to do so.
Even with a few injuries throughout the year, Vanek had a terrific season for the Sabres. While he was obviously unable to maintain his torrid pace he set at the beginning of the season, he still managed to finish the year with over a point per game, with 41 points in 38 games.
Vanek ended up leading the team in every offensive category, easily leading in points and goals while finishing tied for the most assists on the team as well. He was a weapon on the man advantage, with 14 of his points coming with the Sabres on the power play. Two of his goals were of the game winning variety.
So he sounds like a pretty important player to the Sabres. He sounds like it because he is. He’s the best offensive player that this team has. But regardless of that fact, now might be the time to part with him.
Vanek has one year remaining on a contract that carries a cap hit over $7 million. It’s clear that this Sabres team isn’t going to be back in contention next year, barring some significant changes to get them there this summer. Which means that Vanek could be ready to bolt in free agency in the summer of 2014.
Getting value for him now makes a lot of sense. Teams will pay big for a player of Vanek’s caliber. He’s still a top tier offensive player. Unloading him this summer could bring back a nice haul of young talent, and potentially draft picks as well. this summer. Expect his name to be floated out there heavily by the time draft night rolls around.