NHL

HOCKEY'S FUTURE PROSPECTS: Thomas Vanek

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NAME: Thomas Vanek TEAM/LEAGUE: U. of Minnesota/WCHA POSITION: Left Wing HEIGHT/WEIGHT: 6-foot-2/210 lbs. SHOOTS: Right BIRTHDATE: 1-17-84 HOMETOWN: Graz, Austria THE ANALYSIS: Thomas Vanek could easily be, not only the best goal scorer, but also the best clutch goal scorer available in this year's draft. Vanek's decision making in the offensive zone is clearly his biggest strength with his ability to anticipate defensemen and the goalie. He has the ability of knowing when to shoot or pass or stickhandle around the opposition and what type of shot to use. His explosive wrist shot and slap shot and the ability to move from forehand to backhand in traffic makes him dangerous. His puck movement skills are a little uncanny at times and he can find his options quickly and move into prime scoring areas. He has the size and strength to compete at the NHL level and is dangerous in the slot and around the net. His knack for scoring timely and game-winning goals is apparent and he displays NHL veteran like presence. His play away from the puck and his skating seem to be aspects that require some work and fine-tuning. He needs to dedicate more time and show a greater work ethic in his defensive game to make a major impact in the NHL. His positioning and ability to break to position in a timely fashion needs positive progress. In time, he'll understand that limiting the opposition's options and making better decisions defensively can create more offense for himself and his teammates. Vanek has strength, balance and agility needed, but lacks overall quickness and foot speed. THE SKINNY: Some of our scouts have suggested he could be a risky pick but the upside is so great that you cannot risk not taking him. He certainly has the ability to be a game breaker and a clutch offensive player who could score 40-plus goals at the NHL level. If paired with a playmaking center he could cause coaches fits because he just simply knows how to score. That fact alone could easily make him a factor early on in his NHL career and a coveted player by many teams.

Milan Michalek's career stats
Year Team League GP G A PTS PIM
00-01 Sioux USHL 20 19 10 29 15
01-02 Sioux USHL 53 46 45 91 54
02-03 U. of Minn. WCHA 45 31 31 62 60

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