November 7, 2013; Raleigh, NC, USA; New York Islanders forwardThomas Vanek
(26) skates against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Center. The Carolina Hurricanes defeated the New York Islanders 1-0. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports
In case you are not on twitter (in which case you surely would know what’s happening) or just haven’t heard the news yet, forward Thomas Vanek turned down a reported 7 year, 5o million dollar contract offer today by the New York Islanders, according to Arthur Staple of Newsday.
The news was not necessarily a surprise, given the pending unrestricted free agent’s brief time with the Islanders was one filled with losing and disappointment. He watched as the team he was traded to on a quiet Sunday night fall to the depths of the league, and for that (along with other reasons), he decided not to sign a long-term extension with the Islanders.
This basically ensures that we won’t be seeing Vanek sporting Islanders colors by the end of the season. In the report, in which Staple quoted a ‘source’, Vanek turned down a salary of 7.12 million dollars annually, showing his displeasure with playing on Long Island. Sure, the team could have offered more (and might have, as other reports suggest), but 7 million per year is a lot of money. If that and playing along with arguably the second best player in the league (you already know who he is) isn’t enough to get you to stay, then good riddance to you. The trade deadline is a little more than a month away, but with Vanek turning down the best offer he was going to get, he’ll probably be out of Long Island well before then.
Quickly, let’s go back to the initial trade that brought Vanek to the Islanders back on October 27th. The Islanders gave a 2014 1st round pick, a 2015 2nd rounder and fan-favorite Matt Moulson to the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for Vanek. With the team now where they are in terms of the standings, the Islanders can keep this year’s 1st round pick, and give Buffalo next season’s first rounder. That very well may happen, and it’s something to keep in mind with the imminent trade talks Garth Snow will have regarding Vanek.
With Vanek basically checking himself out of Long Island, it’s nearly guaranteed that he’ll be traded within the next month. For who remains to be unknown, as the Islanders immediate needs in the area of goaltending and defense most likely won’t be available for them. The trade could end up being for another forward and some other items, and the Islanders would then go after their needs in what is going to be a very nice free agent market this offseason.
Without him on the team, the short-term goal, this season’s playoffs, are out of the picture. The Isles find themselves in a hole too deep to climb out of, and with a struggling defense, shaky goaltending, and now a big part of your offense removed, it’s going to be hard to recover from that in two months.
However, the bigger picture is still the main focus, as it always seems to be with this team. Does Vanek’s absence really make the team worse? Will the team continue to struggle?
The Islanders will of course miss Vanek, but by next year, they will be better. The team will gain some sort of offense in exchange for him, that much is easy to see. The Islanders could very well go after Max Pacioretty, who has already been a target of the Islanders for a while according to reports. That does make up for some of the offense, and of course, Pacioretty would produce at high levels alongside superstar John Tavares. Pacioretty is under contract until the 2018-19 season, making him a valuable member of this team for the long-term if he was to be acquired.
And without Vanek’s 7 million dollar salary, the Islanders have even more room for off-season shopping (if they choose to use it). A goaltender is the biggest issue, and that will be addressed after the season ends. Big-time names are becoming free agents this summer, and the Islanders have some enticing money to offer up. Defense is also an issue for the short(er) term, and there’s reason to think that the Islanders will pick up a solid defensive defenseman this offseason.
So, thanks for the memories, Ry- I mean Thomas. You will be missed for sure, but we’ll be alright.
I want to know what you fans think on the situation. Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments, or on twitter.