#VanekWatch: It’s Not Over Until the Pen Hits the Paper


Oct 4, 2013; Buffalo, NY, USA; Buffalo Sabres left wing Thomas Vanek (26) skates prior to the game against the Ottawa Senators at First Niagara Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Islanders have acquired left winger Thomas Vanek from the Buffalo Sabres. But that doesn’t guarantee the 2003 5th overall pick will be a resident of Long Island next season.

The Islanders are coming off a 5-2 home loss to the Flyers on Saturday night, a loss that bumped the team’s record to an unimpressive 4-4-3 on the season. This was by no means acceptable to Isles GM Garth Snow.

“I can tell you I’m not happy with where we are record-wise. We’re better than this,” Snow said in an interview with Newsday. “I wasn’t going to sit by and let games pass.”

He turned out to be a man of his word as he shipped off 2009 free agent signing Matt Moulson–a 29-year old left winger of three straight 30-goal seasons with New York prior to the lockout and 15 goals and 29 assists for 44 points in 47 of 48 games of last year’s shortened season–in addition to a 2014 first round pick and 2015 second round pick. It’s a lot to give up for a guy who could just end up being a rental and sign somewhere else in the summer. According to the Star Tribune’s Michael Russo, Vanek’s agent Steve Bartlett has confirmed there have been no talks between Vanek and the Isles in regarding a contract extension.

In 13 games this season, Vanek has notched four goals and five assists for nine points and a negative-5 rating. Conversely, in 11 games, Moulson has also notched nine points (six goals and three assists) and owns a plus-3 rating. Like Vanek, Moulson is set to hit free agency next summer, giving Buffalo’s Darcy Regier plenty of time to flip him for more assets if need be.

As to Minnesota’s chances of landing Vanek during the offseason, it’s still possible, but the fact that Buffalo received so many big pieces in return strongly suggests every effort will be made by Snow to sign Vanek to a long-term deal. However, there’s still a good possibility he tests the free agent waters just to see what’s out there. If he does, it has to be down to either Long Island or St. Paul.

It’s just not over until the pen hits the paper on Vanek’s next contract, folks. Buckle up–this could be a very interesting ride.