Thomas Vanek with the Buffalo Sabres... those were the days!
Many criticized his play with the Montréal Canadiens in 2013-14, particularly come playoff time, but without his 15 points in 18 regular-season games, who's to say the Habs would even have made it to the postseason?
But Minnesota Wild fans were certainly expecting much more than 21 goals (a career low in a non-lockout season, as he'd scored 20 in 38 games in 2012-13) and no back-checking from him when GM Chuck Fletcher shelled out $19.5M and a no-trade clause for the exclusive rights to have him wear the uniform and loosely redefine the meaning of the words ''play'' and ''compete''.
But with the Sabres, Vanek was a star, a nearly point-per-game player with two 40-goal seasons on his resume, the role of captain for that final year, a true leader. I'm fairly confident he can return to that level if paired with players who do, actually, play at both ends of the ice and let him be creative and help them rack up points.
Here he is looking good in the retro-modern white garbs, from Upper Deck's 2013-14 Artifacts set, card #TS-TV of the Treasured Swatches sub-set: