According to reports, talented Austrian winger Thomas Vanek has turned down a “lucrative” contract extension with the New York Islanders.
Drafted 5th overall by Buffalo in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, Vanek, 30, spent parts of nine seasons with the Sabres, scoring 254 goals and 243 assists for 497 points in 598 games. In that span he would score at least 20 goals eight times, at least 30 goals four times and 40+ goals twice.
An elite player on a struggling franchise, Vanek has long been the subject of trade rumors, and Minnesota fans have drooled over him since his days at the University of Minnesota. Vanek makes Minnesota his offseason home and even came close to purchasing the Sioux Falls Stampede–the USHL team he played for prior to joining the Golden Gophers. Minnesota’s acquisition of Vanek’s best friend and former line mate Jason Pominville at last year’s trade deadline only served to further feed the fires of speculation as to his future destination.
This year’s early season trade to the New York Islanders put the dampers on the hopes of many Wild fans, but everyone knew nothing was official until the pen hit the paper on his next contract. Even with 15 goals and 23 assists for 38 points and a plus-7 rating in 41 games, Vanek has yet to make a long term commitment to the club, and it looks like the chances of that happening have officially gone out the window with the bathwater. As such, the Isles are going to do everything they can to flip him for something instead of just watching him walk into the sunset.
With current market prices for a player of his caliber, it’s almost a guarantee Minnesota’s Chuck Fletcher won’t bite. Not unless it’s for the right price. I wouldn’t necessarily expect a move before the Olympic break, but it could happen. Either way, it’s looking more and more likely Vanek tests free agent waters and, if he does, Minnesota’s odds of landing him are looking better all the time.
To read the latest on the situation from NHL.com, click here.