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.
Last night in Los Angeles, Kings forward Milan Lucic received a match penalty after skating the entire width of the ice to give San Jose’s Logan Couture a two-hand shove to the face.
Lucic didn’t hurt Couture, who had caught Lucic with an open-ice hit that Lucic didn’t like. Couture’s smiling, mocking face was good evidence that the Sharks’ forward was going to be OK.
This morning, Lucic was still in disbelief that he was penalized so harshly.
“I didn’t cross any line,” Lucic said, per Rich Hammond of the O.C. Register. “Believe me, if my intentions were to hurt him, I would have hurt him.”
While Lucic knew he deserved a penalty, he said after the game that he didn’t “know why it was called a match penalty.” His coach, Darryl Sutter, agreed, calling it “a borderline even roughing penalty.”
And though former NHL referee Kerry Fraser believes a match penalty was indeed warranted, Lucic said this morning that he hasn’t heard from the NHL about any possible supplemental discipline.
Nor for that matter has Dustin Brown, after his high hit on Couture in the first period.
In conclusion, it’s good to have hockey back.
Related: Sutter says Kings weren’t ‘interested’ in checking the Sharks
A statement from Raffi Torres:
“I accept the 41-game suspension handed down to me by the NHL’s Department of Player Safety. I worked extremely hard over the last two years following reconstructive knee surgery to resume my NHL career, and this is the last thing I wanted to happen. I am disappointed I have put myself in a position to be suspended again. I sincerely apologize to Jakob for the hit that led to this suspension, and I’m extremely thankful that he wasn’t seriously injured as a result of the play. I also want to apologize to my Sharks teammates and the organization.”
A statement from San Jose GM Doug Wilson:
“The Sharks organization fully supports the NHL’s supplementary discipline decision regarding Raffi. While we do not believe there was any malicious intent, this type of hit is unacceptable and has no place in our game. There is a difference between playing hard and crossing the line and there is no doubt, in this instance, Raffi crossed that line. We’re very thankful that Jakob was not seriously injured as a result of this play.”
Silfverberg says he expects to play Saturday when the Ducks open their regular season Saturday in San Jose.