Tuesday, December 3, 2013

What Can the Isles Get for Vanek?

Is it already time for New York Islanders' GM Garth Snow to admit he gambled and lost with Tomas Vanek? At 8-15-4, and with bottom-of-the-league goaltending and defense, Vanek's presence isn't likely to help it get back to the playoffs in 2013, and with the 29-year-old awaiting free agency at the end of the season, it's clearly time to admit that it's not working and start shopping Vanek for pieces that his club actually needs.

The 7 million dollar question? Is Snow ready to do that or is he hanging on to the pipe dream of signing Vanek to a lucrative extension and hoping that the other pieces of the puzzle somehow fall into place on Long Island?

Hopefully Snow is not that naive.

More than likely, Vanek will set sail for another city, whether the Isles want him to stay or not, so why not look for deep-pocketed teams that covet what Vanek brings to the table (and really, who doesn't covet what Vanek brings?)and try to shore up the beleaguered defense and goaltending corps.

If Snow plays his cards right, his Islanders could wind up better off than they were before they gave up Matt Moulson and two draft picks for Vanek in October. Both Moulson and Vanek are free agents in the off-season, so the Islanders could spin Vanek for a true impact defenseman and a prospect or pick, and maybe even take a shot at signing Moulson (who clearly has great chemistry with John Tavares, and could be signed at a much cheaper price than Vanek would) in the off-season.

The Islanders aren't a very good team right now, but another phase of rebuilding might help them get to where they thought they were heading into this season--a formidable playoff team with cup aspirations.

With Vanek and the Minnesota Wild already linked as a potential match, maybe the scoring-challenged Wild would be willing to deal for the former Golden Gopher? Or how about the Phoenix Coyotes, who are stacked on the blue line and also struggle to score? There's plenty of time until the NHL's trade deadline, and the Islanders don't need to rush. But they should be committed to getting something for Vanek before he departs for greener pastures. It's painfully obvious that the Islanders can't afford Vanek with their basement payroll and still continue to improve the depth and talent on their roster, so why should they even entertain the notion of keeping him?