Thomas Vanek has enjoyed Long Island so much that — even if the Isles dealt him at the deadline — he’d consider re-signing there if he becomes an unrestricted free agent in July.
Yes, that’s right.
“I know Garth gave up a lot to get me here, so if they feel they need to get something back (by the deadline), I understand,” Vanek told Newsday. “He’s been great, the team has been great. No one has put any pressure on me.”
There haven’t been any substantive contract talks between the two sides, which just adds to the limbo of the situation. But even though Vanek hasn’t indicated via his agent or directly to Snow whether he’d be willing to sign before July 1, saying that the Islanders “would definitely be on my list” when free agency begins could be seen as a sign he’s not crossing them off to force a trade.
“Even if they traded me, sure,” Vanek said. “I like it here, it’s a good group of guys. This would be a place I’d consider if it gets to July 1.”
There is something of a precedent here. In 2007, St. Louis traded pending UFA Keith Tkachuk to Atlanta at the deadline, as the Blues were out of playoff contention while the Thrashers were primed to make the first postseason appearance in franchise history (which they did, before getting swept in Round 1.)
Tkachuk remained a Thrasher until four days before free agency, when he was dealt back to the Blues and signed to a two-year, $8 million deal.
Of course, Tkachuk had far more history with the Blues than Vanek did with the Isles, playing six seasons in St. Louis before getting dealt. Vanek has only played in 36 games with New York since being acquired from Buffalo in October.