With the rumors of Thomas Vanek now in full swing and with reports coming out of Newsday that even if Vanek were to be traded at the deadline, the Islanders “would definitely be on my list” the Islanders have a decision to make. What to do with him? I’ve got a thought and that is to trade him to the Minnesota Wild at the deadline. Here’s why. Before this season even started, there were reports of Vanek signing a contract to play in his home state, a la Zach Parise. For some, they believe it’s just a matter of when not if he signs. So here are some trade scenarios that could happen:
First: Trade him to the Wild for their first round pick this year and a conditional first round pick in next years draft (if he resigns w/ the Wild) , and eat up some of his salary for the remainder of this year.
This is my first choice. If this happens the Isles would end up with a potential top 20 pick and, depending on how the Islanders can finish, a top 7 pick. That top 7 pick would do wonders for a Stanley Cup running team who have not picked in the top 10 in a long time & may have a defenseman or goalie available that the Isles cap space would be able to afford and the Isles still have a first rounder to pick from.
Second: Don’t trade Vanek at the trade deadline and wait to trade him to Minnesota for either Backstrom or Harding (MS Illness a slight concern) at the draft.
Why a deal like this? Because Kevin Poulin has shown this year that, with a better defense in front of him, could at least be a .500 goalie for the Islanders. Adding a player like Backstrom or Harding, in my opinion, would be an upgrade over Nabokov and with their shorter contracts, gives Poulin the continued motivation that he still has a shot at being a number goalie in his Islanders future. Is he there yet? No, but you still want him playing as many games as possible for his development.
Third: Not trade Vanek at all and gamble that he’ll resign.
I don’t know what the Islanders fans psyche would be if this happened. I don’t think he’ll sign with any team on July 1st, which would make their lives very stressful and if he decided to sign with Minnesota, they’re would be a mob scene of Islanders fans calling for Islanders General Manager Garth Snow’s head. When they get his head, they’ll go after Islanders owner Charles Wang just because.
Say Vanek leaves, are the Islanders OK? Actually, yes they are.
If you take the goals scored by Moulson (6), Bouchard (4), Regin (2+) and the potential in Vanek (25) it comes to about 37. Call it 40 goals the Isles have to make up. With young stars like Brock Nelson, Ryan Strome and Anders Lee in the fold, making up a chunk of that is possible. I’m also of the optimist that Grabner and Bailey will both have better years.
If the Islanders can make some subtle moves on defense and add rookie/depth players like Reinhart & Mayfield into the mix next year, the Isles defense will improve. That leaves plenty of CAP SPACE to sign/trade for a legit number one goalie and secure the depth in that position.
But this is my point, Vanek and his agent know all of this! Vanek knows the Islanders are close to being contenders; he knows that in the East it’s pretty much the Bruins and Penguins; he knows that if he does go out west and signs a 4-5 year deal, he’s not winning a Cup against teams like Anaheim, Chicago, San Jose, Los Angeles, & St. Louis. He’ll be like Parise and just wanted to play at home and not win a Cup. This is what his decision is about fans: playing at home or winning the Stanley Cup.
At this point the Isles have done everything but signed him. He knows what it’s like to be a New York Islander. No matter what, the Islanders will be finalists on his list of teams to sign. What he doesn’t know is what it’s like to play for the Wild. I say give that wish. Let him make the playoffs, only to get squashed by the aforementioned teams. Let him realize that for the next 4-5 years that losing in the playoffs and losing badly will be the norm in Minnesota. Then, if he still resigns with the Wild, then he just wants to play at home and that’s fine and understandable, but the Islanders need someone who really wants to win the Cup because with or without him, the Islanders are moving forward and will improve.
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