Guyer coming back, hopes Vanek joins him

Thomas Vanek and Paul Martin still are deciding on their futures with the Minnesota Gophers hockey team. Coach Don Lucia met with Vanek last week and early indications are Vanek may be coming back. Martin's status is still unclear, but one thing is certain -- Gino Guyer will be back, and he'd like Vanek to join him.

There is still no word on whether Thomas Vanek or Paul Martin will be playing hockey for the Minnesota Gophers next season. But, according to reports in both the St. Paul Pioneer Press and Minneapolis Star Tribune, early indications are both will be back with the team next season.

Vanek was the No. 1 draft choice of the Buffalo Sabres, but still has not talked with Buffalo officials, while New Jersey Devils officials have yet to make an offer of any kind to Paul Martin, something local sports writing legend Sid Hartman says is "an indication both players might be back with the Gophers next year."

Charley Walters of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported that coach Don Lucia met with Vanek last week for the first time since the sophomore-to-be was picked No. 5 overall. The report is Vanek indicated he is leaning toward returning for his sophomore season, despite the fact that he could receive a $1.1 million signing bonus from the Sabres. Vanek is reportedly heading back to his native Austria soon, but wants to make a decision on his future with the Gophers before he does that.

"The inclination now is that Thomas would like to come back for his sophomore year," Lucia told Walters. "I think he's sincere. Whether that plays out or not, we'll see."

While Vanek and Martin are mulling options, one Gopher draftee has already decided on his plans. Gino Guyer, who will also be a sophomore next season, was picked in the fifth round (165th overall) by the Dallas Stars. But the former Greenway High (MN) prep star has already made up his mind – he will be back with the maroon and gold next season.

"It's a few years off yet," Guyer told the Hibbing Daily Tribune. "I'm not looking too far ahead. I still have three years of college left. I was a later-round pick and they take their time with those guys. I just need to keep improving with time. When I'm done, I may play in the NHL some day."

Guyer was happy he was drafted, but was hoping to be selected sooner.

"I was disappointed I didn't go earlier, but I'm happy with the organization who drafted me," he added.

Like most Gophers hockey fans, Guyer is anxiously waiting to find out what Vanek will do next season. Like the rest of the Gophers hockey family, he wants Vanek to return for a shot at a third consecutive national title.

"It's a tough decision for him," Guyer said of Vanek. "He's excited to be drafted but he enjoys college, so I'd like to see him stay. He helped our team out a ton."

Matt Krumrie covers Gophers hockey for GoldenSports.net. He can be reached at gopherhockeyinsider@yahoo.com

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