First off, happy fourth to you all. Second, hockey season will be coming upon us in only a few short months, and both of those put together means a patriotic hockey preview.
And the man who will send the red glare, not from rockets true, but still, of the goal light will be, your Austrian and mine, Thomas Vanek. No, this is not an earth shattering realization, considering he has been leading or near the top of the Sabres scoring leaders, but this will be the season when he defines himself as a player, and has his best year.
There are no more things holding him back. The cancer knows as Derek Roy is now suffering in Texas, and he has a good centreman in Hodgson, and a good winger in Pominville.
Also, with a team that is most certainly going to have a downfall in scoring, then pressure will be on him to produce, which will improve his stats out of necessity.
The core of the Sabres is falling apart, and Vanek has but a single choice. Produce, and produce well enough these next two years to win a cup in Buffalo, and earn a new contract, or go the way of the old core, in the lines of Gaustad and Roy, and be shipped away.
Who knows, even if he does do well, he might still be forced to leave.
My prediction: 50 G