Thomas Vanek is a pending unrestricted free agent on a New York Islanders team that doesn’t look like it’s going to be in playoff contention once the March 5 trade deadline rolls around.
Recently, NHL.com asked the 29-year-old winger about his contract situation and what he’s thinking less than three months after being traded to Long Island from Buffalo.
“Well, I’m not ignorant about it,” Vanek said. “I know the scenario and what could happen for me. But my thought process is I do like it here. This team to me is really a team. I think the potential is a lot more than we’ve shown. We’ve shown we can play with the best teams.
“Hopefully I can then stay here and finish off the year, but I do understand the business side of it. Am I worried if I get a phone call tomorrow about something? No, I’m really not. It’s the business side of it. So be it. This business is what I signed up for. We’re talking. I like it here. I do think there’s a ways to go, but you never know.”
Vanek has 11 goals and 16 assists in 28 games for the Isles, and a future playing alongside John Tavares is certainly an enticing one for any player to imagine. But like Vanek says, there’s a business side to this, and right now he’s looking at a contract similar to, say, the eight-year, $64 million extension Phil Kessel got in Toronto. Is that something the Isles would be willing to entertain? And if it is, would he sign the extension before the trade deadline? Because the Isles won’t want to risk losing him for nothing.
Montreal added some forward depth on Tuesday, acquiring diminutive forward Paul Byron off waivers from Calgary.
Byron, 26, is a veteran of nearly 150 career NHL games, most coming with the Flames. Despite fairly solid production over the last two years — 40 points in 104 games — he was exposed to waivers on Monday, along with fellow forward Mason Raymond.
(Calgary does have a logjam of players at forward, hence parting ways with Byron and Raymond.)
Byron can play both wing and center but, at 5-foot-7, 153 pounds, is one of the most undersized skaters in the league. Thankfully for him, Montreal has an affinity for undersized forwards, with the likes of Brendan Gallagher (5-foot-9, 184 pounds) and David Desharnais (5-foot-7, 174 pounds) already on the active roster.
Byron could also fill Zack Kassian‘s roster spot. Kassian is currently suspended without pay while undergoing Stage 2 of the NHL’s Substance Abuse program.
The New York Islanders have claimed goalie Jean-Francois Berube off waivers from the Los Angeles Kings, the club announced today.
Berube won the Calder Cup last season with AHL Manchester, but the 24-year-old has yet to appear in an NHL game.
That the Isles claimed Berube could be evidence that Jaroslav Halak will not be ready to start the season after all.
If that’s the case, Berube would back up Thomas Greiss, with Stephon Williams expected to go to the AHL.
The Isles open their regular season Friday at home versus the Blackhawks, then play the next day in Chicago.