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But junior forward would go for right deal

5/24/2004 - Buffalo Sabres

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Forward Thomas Vanek will consider an offer
from the Buffalo Sabres once he gets one. Otherwise, the Sabres'
first-round draft pick is prepared to return to play his junior
year at Minnesota next season.

Vanek told The Associated Press on Monday that while the Sabres
have contacted his family advisers, the team has yet to speak to
him and make an offer.

"They've been talking a little bit, but I don't think it's
anything major," said Vanek. "As of right now, I'm pretty set
coming back to Minnesota unless the Sabres come to me and give me
an offer. But that's not in my hands, and I can't worry about
that."

Last week, Sabres general manager Darcy Regier said he's
interested in signing Vanek, believing the play-making forward is
ready to turn pro and forgo the final two years of his college
eligibility.

Vanek is back at Minnesota, preparing to take summer courses
after representing his native Austria at the World Hockey
Championships earlier this month. Buffalo selected him with the No.
5 pick in the 2003 NHL draft.

Vanek, who led Minnesota in scoring in each of his first two
seasons, said that he's ready to turn pro but that the decision rests with
the Sabres.

"If the contract does come and it's good, I'm always ready for
a new challenge," Vanek said. "But at the same time, if nothing
happens, I'm ready to come back here at Minnesota."

Vanek had 31 goals and 31 assists, leading all NCAA freshmen
with 62 points, when he helped the Golden Gophers win a national
championship in 2002-03. Vanek's numbers dropped in his sophomore
season, when he tallied 26 goals and 25 assists.

Vanek added two goals and five assists in six games in competing
in his first world championship tournament earlier this month in the Czech Republic.