But junior forward would go for right deal

Originally Published: May 24, 2004
Associated Press

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.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press