Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 05/05/14 at 01:54 PM ET
from Chris Johnston of Sportsnet,
The reason Vanek is a millionaire many times over is because of an uncanny ability to sense opportunity and strike. He’s not flashy, nor does he have great speed or a big shot; rather, he seems to disappear in plain view before re-emerging at just the right moment, a rare skill. His first three goals with Montreal (a hat trick in front of a home crowd that roared his name in adoration as he was named the game’s first star) were perfectly emblematic of what makes him so dangerous. The first two were quick shots from in front when a defenceman seemed to lose track of him. The third was a tipped point shot—again, with him standing right in front of the goal. He’s not often mentioned among the world’s elite goal scorers, but only Alex Ovechkin, Jarome Iginla and Ilya Kovalchuk have scored more goals than him since the beginning of the 2006–07 season. As one NHL coach puts it: “You don’t spend the whole night worrying about Vanek, but by the time the game is over you might wish you had.”
All 30 NHL teams would happily find room for Vanek’s remarkable consistency in their lineups. He has at least 25 goals in each of his eight non-lockout-shortened seasons and has proven himself durable. Not many players can boast those qualities, and you can bet that fact hasn’t escaped Vanek (or agent Stephen Bartlett). This is a man who understands leverage better than most. He’s had it—and used it—every time he’s needed a new contract. July 1 will be no different.
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