Sioux Falls, SD--Former Stampede star forward Thomas Vanek has signed a free agent contract with the Minnesota Wild. The Austrian-born left winger has agreed to a three-year, $19.5 million contract just hours into free agency. Vanek is the Stampede’s all-time leading scorer having posted 153 points in 108 career games (1999-2002).
Vanek was selected fifth overall by the Buffalo Sabres in 2003 and spent his first 9 seasons in the NHL with the Sabres before being traded to the New York Islanders and then the Montreal Canadiens this season. In 663 career games, Vanek has compiled 556 points on 277 goals and 279 assists. He has 30 points in 53 career playoff games. Since the start of the 2005-06 season, Vanek has scored the eighth-most goals in the NHL and his 556 points is tied for 11th overall.
Prior to playing in the NHL, Vanek spent four years at the University of Minnesota where he registered 113 points and 57 goals in 83 career games for the Gophers. He led the team in scoring both years, was a WCHA Rookie of the Year and his 31 goals as a freshman is second in school history. In 2003, he was the Frozen Four MVP, beating Michigan in overtime and scoring the winning goal in the national championship game against New Hampshire.
Vanek joined the Stampede during their inaugural season in 1999-2000, recording 33 points in 35 games. He appeared in just 20 games in 2000-01, but returned for a record setting year in 2001-02 where posted 91 points in just 53 games. His 91 points are a franchise record along with his 46 goals that season. He holds the franchise record for most points in a career (153), most points in a season (91), most goals in a career (80) and most goals in a season (46). He is also tied for scoring the most goals in a game with four. While skating for the Stampede, Vanek secured a scholarship to play Division I college hockey at the University of Minnesota.
Courtesy: Sioux Falls Stampede Jim Olander