Will Thomas Vanek Stay An Islander After This Season or Bolt To Free Agency?

Thomas Vanek has been openly on the market for some time now. The Buffalo Sabres were finally able to sell him on Sunday, when he was dealt to the New York Islanders. You can find the entire story here.

The hard part about moving a prized player like Vanek in the NHL, is the team taking on the player has to worry about cap space, and they have to think about being able to ink the player to a deal following the season. It’s no different in the Vanek situation at hand, he’s in his final contract year, and he holds a cap hit of $7.142 million.

It was well documented that Vanek was interested in returning to Minnesota, or there were at least a lot of positives in Vanek playing for the Wild. Vanek’s close friend Jason Pominville was traded from Buffalo at the trade deadline last spring, and Vanek was the one that drove Pominville to the airport before he left for Minnesota.

Vanek, although he was born in Austria, attended the University of Minnesota before being drafted in 2003. Vanek’s wife, is originally from Minnesota as well, all of these are good reasons for Vanek to want to be in Minnesota.

The Wild may struggle to find the cap space at the moment, which could be a main reason a deal was never done, but at the end of the season the Wild get to dump off $7.5 million in cap space when Danny Heatley comes off their books in the summer.

Garth Snow has said that there was no contract extension in place for Vanek in New York before the trade was made. So are the Islanders hoping they can convince him before the end of the season? That’s quite the risk, especially when they traded a first and second round pick, and Matt Moulson who wanted to stay with the organization.

So will Vanek bolt out of New York the second he gets the opportunity? Or will he stick around in pursuit of a Stanley Cup with All-Star center John Tavares?

The Islanders have John Tavares locked up until 2018 with a cap hit of $5.5 million. It’s hard to believe that the Islanders would want to spend more on Vanek than they did on their captain and face of their franchise. So how much would Vanek be asking for? And how much would the Islanders be willing to pay him?

Garth Snow needs to begin talking with Vanek and selling the idea of sticking around with the Islanders. If Snow can sell the future of the Islanders franchise well to Vanek, they may be able to lock him up for cheaper than he’s worth. The Islanders have had trouble bringing in free agents, and it seems that Snow felt he needed to make a move for a bit of extra offense knowing it would be difficult to sign a free agent in the summer.

John Tavares and Thomas Vanek on the same line gives me goosebumps just thinking about it. Vanek will lace up his skates and hit the ice with the Isles for the first time tonight when the New York Rangers come across town for a visit. Puck drop is at 7:00pm eastern.

Tags: Buffalo Sabres Garth Snow Jason Pominville John Tavares Matt Moulson Minnesota Wild New York Islanders Thomas Vanek

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