Decision day approaching for Vanek, Martin

Friday, August 1 is the day Gophers hockey stars Thomas Vanek and Paul Martin have targeted to announce whether they will stay with the Gophers and try and win a third national title, or decide to go pro. What will it be?

Friday could be a big day for Gopher hockey fans.

That day – August 1 - is the day both Thomas Vanek and Paul Martin have targeted as the deadline day to announce whether they will stay with the Gophers next season or turn pro. Vanek was the fifth overall pick by the Buffalo Sabres in the June NHL Entry Draft, while Martin was a second-round pick of the New Jersey Devils in 2002.

Vanek could command a signing bonus of $1.1 million, reports say, if he signs with the Sabres. However, Vanek still has not been in contact with Buffalo officials to even discuss the Austrian native's future.

Martin, meanwhile, is believed to be pondering a possible $850,000 bonus to sign with the Devils. Both players have indicated they are considering turning pro, but the allure of playing one more year of college hockey and the chance to win a third consecutive national title has made it a difficult decision. Both would also be candidates for the Hobey Baker award, given to college hockey's top player annually.

Gophers recruit Derek Peltier, who will play for Cedar Rapids of the USHL next year before joining the Gophers in 2004-2005 said it must be a difficult decision.

"I can only imagine the decision they are facing," said Peltier. "I know they want to come back and try and win another title, but that is a lot of money."

St. Paul Pioneer Press columnist Charley Walters reported Tuesday:

"New Jersey Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello and senior-to-be Paul Martin talked Monday, and the Gophers' defenseman is still considering a signing bonus offer in the $850,000 range. Meanwhile, Gophers scoring star Thomas Vanek left for his native Europe on Monday for three weeks, and it's a cinch he will return for his sophomore season rather than accept a $1 million signing bonus from the Buffalo Sabres."

Will they stay or will they go?

Stay tuned to GoldenSports.Net for more information on this developing situation.

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

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