ThomasVanek

 

Can Thomas Vanek survive on his own?

 

Thomas Vanek always seems to be one of those guys who gets more credit than he deserves. Sure, he’s extremely talented, but he’s inconsistent and looks to be in store for another tough season. There are just too many factors going against him to think he’s going to have a good year.

 

It all starts with last year’s loss of Jason Pominville. Vanek and Pominville have been pretty tight on the ice over the past few years. Take a look:

 

Frequency

Strength

Line Combination

46.62%

EV

19 HODGSON,CODY - 29 POMINVILLE,JASON - 26 VANEK,THOMAS

8.51%

EV

63 ENNIS,TYLER - 19 HODGSON,CODY - 26 VANEK,THOMAS

4.19%

EV

19 HODGSON,CODY - 21 STAFFORD,DREW - 26 VANEK,THOMAS

3.14%

EV

63 ENNIS,TYLER - 23 LEINO,VILLE - 26 VANEK,THOMAS

3.04%

PP

63 ENNIS,TYLER - 82 FOLIGNO,MARCUS - 29 POMINVILLE,JASON - 26 VANEK,THOMAS

2.19%

PP

19 HODGSON,CODY - 9 OTT,STEVE - 29 POMINVILLE,JASON - 26 VANEK,THOMAS

2.13%

PP

63 ENNIS,TYLER - 9 OTT,STEVE - 29 POMINVILLE,JASON - 26 VANEK,THOMAS

 

Pretty well all of Vanek’s power play time was spent with Pominville and despite Pominville getting traded with 10 games left in the season, he, Vanek and Hodgson played together a great deal at even strength. Vanek would have spent much more time alongside Pominville had he not been dealt.

 

It wasn’t a one-season occurrence either but a multi-year trend. Look at Vanek’s linemates from the previous year.

 

Frequency

Strength

Line Combination

20.4%

EV

29 POMINVILLE,JASON - 9 ROY,DEREK - 26 VANEK,THOMAS

15.02%

EV

55 HECHT,JOCHEN - 29 POMINVILLE,JASON - 26 VANEK,THOMAS

13.01%

EV

72 ADAM,LUKE - 29 POMINVILLE,JASON - 26 VANEK,THOMAS

7.37%

EV

19 HODGSON,CODY - 78 TROPP,COREY - 26 VANEK,THOMAS

 

Almost 50% of Vanek’s shifts were spent with Pominville as a linemate in 2011-12. Those two had great chemistry together and it showed in the numbers. Consider Vanek's scoring last season:

 

Total Points for Thomas Vanek : 41

Str

On Ice Line Combination

Points

%Total
Points

EV

HODGSON,CODY - POMINVILLE,JASON - VANEK,THOMAS

17

41.46%

PP

ENNIS,TYLER - HODGSON,CODY - STAFFORD,DREW - VANEK,THOMAS

3

7.32%

PP

ENNIS,TYLER - POMINVILLE,JASON - STAFFORD,DREW - VANEK,THOMAS

3

7.32%

PP

ENNIS,TYLER - OTT,STEVE - POMINVILLE,JASON - VANEK,THOMAS

2

4.88%

EV

HODGSON,CODY - VANEK,THOMAS

2

4.88%

EV

HODGSON,CODY - STAFFORD,DREW - VANEK,THOMAS

2

4.88%

PP

ENNIS,TYLER - FOLIGNO,MARCUS - POMINVILLE,JASON - VANEK,THOMAS

2

4.88%

PP

HODGSON,CODY - OTT,STEVE - POMINVILLE,JASON - VANEK,THOMAS

1

2.44%

PP

ENNIS,TYLER - HODGSON,CODY - OTT,STEVE - STAFFORD,DREW - VANEK,THOMAS

1

2.44%

PP

ENNIS,TYLER - HODGSON,CODY - POMINVILLE,JASON - VANEK,THOMAS

1

2.44%

PP

ENNIS,TYLER - HODGSON,CODY - VANEK,THOMAS

1

2.44%

EV

ENNIS,TYLER - LEINO,VILLE - VANEK,THOMAS

1

2.44%

EV

ENNIS,TYLER - FOLIGNO,MARCUS - OTT,STEVE - POMINVILLE,JASON - VANEK,THOMAS

1

2.44%

SH

FOLIGNO,MARCUS - VANEK,THOMAS

1

2.44%

EV

FLYNN,BRIAN - FOLIGNO,MARCUS - VANEK,THOMAS

1

2.44%

EV

ENNIS,TYLER - FOLIGNO,MARCUS - VANEK,THOMAS

1

2.44%

EV

GRIGORENKO,MIKHAIL - HECHT,JOCHEN - VANEK,THOMAS

1

2.44%

 

Of Vanek’s 41 points last season 27 came with Pominville on the ice. If you take out the eight points Vanek scored after Pominville was dealt, and that means Pominville was on the ice for 81.8 per cent of Vanek’s scoring total. It was much the same in 2011-12, too.

 

Total Points for Thomas Vanek : 61

Str

On Ice Line Combination

Points

%Total
Points

EV

ADAM,LUKE - POMINVILLE,JASON - VANEK,THOMAS

9

14.75%

PP

POMINVILLE,JASON - STAFFORD,DREW - VANEK,THOMAS

5

8.2%

EV

POMINVILLE,JASON - ROY,DEREK - VANEK,THOMAS

5

8.2%

EV

HECHT,JOCHEN - POMINVILLE,JASON - VANEK,THOMAS

5

8.2%

EV

HODGSON,CODY - TROPP,COREY - VANEK,THOMAS

4

6.56%

PP

BOYES,BRAD - POMINVILLE,JASON - ROY,DEREK - VANEK,THOMAS

3

4.92%

PP

BOYES,BRAD - POMINVILLE,JASON - VANEK,THOMAS

3

4.92%

PP

POMINVILLE,JASON - ROY,DEREK - STAFFORD,DREW - VANEK,THOMAS

2

3.28%

PP

POMINVILLE,JASON - ROY,DEREK - VANEK,THOMAS

2

3.28%

EV

ROY,DEREK - STAFFORD,DREW - VANEK,THOMAS

2

3.28%

EV

GAUSTAD,PAUL - POMINVILLE,JASON - VANEK,THOMAS

2

3.28%

PP

HODGSON,CODY - POMINVILLE,JASON - ROY,DEREK - VANEK,THOMAS

2

3.28%

PP

ADAM,LUKE - POMINVILLE,JASON - VANEK,THOMAS

2

3.28%

EV

BOYES,BRAD - ROY,DEREK - VANEK,THOMAS

2

3.28%

EV

ENNIS,TYLER - ROY,DEREK - VANEK,THOMAS

1

1.64%

EV

ELLIS,MATT - POMINVILLE,JASON - VANEK,THOMAS

1

1.64%

EV

GAUSTAD,PAUL - KASSIAN,ZACK - VANEK,THOMAS

1

1.64%

PP

ENNIS,TYLER - POMINVILLE,JASON - ROY,DEREK - VANEK,THOMAS

1

1.64%

EV

KASSIAN,ZACK - SZCZECHURA,PAUL - VANEK,THOMAS

1

1.64%

PP

HODGSON,CODY - ROY,DEREK - VANEK,THOMAS

1

1.64%

PP

ENNIS,TYLER - POMINVILLE,JASON - STAFFORD,DREW - VANEK,THOMAS

1

1.64%

EV

ROY,DEREK - VANEK,THOMAS

1

1.64%

EV

POMINVILLE,JASON - SZCZECHURA,PAUL - VANEK,THOMAS

1

1.64%

EV

ENNIS,TYLER - GERBE,NATHAN - VANEK,THOMAS

1

1.64%

PP

LEINO,VILLE - POMINVILLE,JASON - ROY,DEREK - VANEK,THOMAS

1

1.64%

PP

ENNIS,TYLER - POMINVILLE,JASON - VANEK,THOMAS

1

1.64%

EV

HECHT,JOCHEN - KASSIAN,ZACK - VANEK,THOMAS

1

1.64%

 

In 2011-12, Pominville was on the ice for 46 of Vanek’s 61 points, good for 75.4% of his production.

 

Now Vanek’s running-mate is gone leaving him with much less to work with. Yes, there is a lot of young talent with potential in the Sabres’ new lineup but there is very little proven talent. How many of Vanek’s current teammates have had 50-point seasons at the NHL level? Just two; Drew Stafford (the only one to do it in a Sabres uniform) and Ville Leino.

 

Much of the core of this team is inexperienced. Cody Hodgson, likely the top centre, has only two years of NHL experience, Tyler Ennis has just three, while Marcus Foligno has just over a season’s worth and Mikhail Grigorenko hasn’t even played a full season.

 

That lineup may be looking good a few years from now, but this year, it will have trouble scoring, which will hurt Vanek’s production now.

Losing Pominville won’t just hurt Vanek directly on the ice, the biggest impact will be on Vanek’s mental state. It’s no secret that he and Pominville were pretty close friends. How will he react to a whole season without his buddy?

 

Vanek has already mentioned that he doesn’t want to be part of a rebuild, yet he’s in the middle of one. Often the subject of trade rumours and without a no-trade clause, Vanek has no control over where he can go. He will be facing a non-stop stream of media members asking him about being traded until he signs a contract extension or is dealt. If by chance he isn’t dealt and can’t come to an agreement on an extension then he faces free agency this summer and will have to figure out what to do (and where to go) for the rest of his career.

 

That’s a lot of mental fatigue for a player who already struggles with inconsistency. Even with Pominville around Vanek has only scored more than 65 points once in the past six seasons (although he was on pace for 77 points last year.) He is simply a streaky player.

 

For example, Vanek jumped out to the early scoring lead last season with points in his first eight games (including two five-point games) and in 10 of his first 11. Through those first 11 games, he scored 23 points. He then proceeded to score just two points in his next seven games (and both came in the same game).

 

This is the story of Vanek’s playing career: when he is hot, there is almost nobody better, but when he is cold, he is Scott Gomez cold.

 

The 2011-12 season was much of the same for Vanek. He scored points in his each of his first six games, as well as in 19 of his first 21. In that span, he notched 24 points. Later in the season, however, he went through a cold streak where he scored just two points in 13 games.

 

Vanek is simply facing too much adversity this season to be productive. He is already a very streaky player but now he faces life without his friend and former linemate as well as an uncertain standing within his own locker room. Look for him to max out at 60 points.

 

Previously from Tom Collins:

 

Forensics: Is Jiri Tlusty For Real?

Forensics: Can Travis Zajac Bounce Back?


Write comment
Comments (5)add comment

cloud79 said:

cloud79
... With the current linemate I don't see Vanek making past the 60pts mark but yet this year's projecting has him with over 70pts. Unless he is traded to another team with an equal linemate as before i don't see him past the 60pts.
September 17, 2013
Votes: +0

Isle B. said:

Isle B.
... That 2006-07 Buffalo team was indeed a powerhouse. If their run-and-gun style had won the Cup, then the NHL would be a more entertaining league. That said, Vanek is the type of player that can make his own offense. Having a great running mate like Pominville helps but Vanek has the speed and dangling ability to make his own offense. He probably gets 65 points but that could mean 40 goals and a segment of the season in which his production is in Ovechkin territory.
September 14, 2013
Votes: +0

newfcollins said:

newfcollins
... @Excelsior: I also think he will probably be traded (although there's an outside chance he won't be if the Sabres surprise everyone and stay in the hunt for the playoffs). At that point though, it depends on where he gets traded to. Sure, a team like Pittsburgh would help him with points, but what if he gets traded to Nashville, or Montreal, or Columbus or a team similar to those guys? Does that help him enough? Probably not too much.

@Isle B.: Funny enough, that last contract year has been his best season to date (he's only had more than 65 points twice, which is another warning sign). But that Buffalo team was pretty good: Briere in his prime, Drury, Pominville, Roy, Afinogenov (all six had at least 20 goals and 60 points), Campbell on defence. He doesn't have the same level of teammates anymore. It's going to be much more difficult to get 80 points now.
September 13, 2013
Votes: +0

Isle B. said:

Isle B.
... Counterpoint: This is a contract year for Vanek and the last time he was in that position he had about 40 goals and 84 points.
September 13, 2013
Votes: -1

Excelsior said:

Excelsior
... I think Vanek will be traded and will play with an equally talented linemate and will continue with similar production.
September 13, 2013
Votes: +2
You must be logged in to post a comment. Please register if you do not have an account yet.

busy