Thomas Vanek is nearing a decision, according to his agent. Which means the Islanders are nearing a decision on whether Vanek, their big early-season acquisition, will be on the move again before the March 5 trade deadline.
"I don't think any final decision has been made yet," Steve Bartlett, Vanek's agent, told Newsday on Wednesday. "We continue to have what I consider very good and constructive conversations with the Islanders. But we're not there yet."
Garth Snow is believed to be gauging the trade market for Vanek, according to a league source, given that there are only eight days until the Olympic roster freeze, which runs from Feb. 7-23, and then only 10 days until the trade deadline.
The Islanders surrendered a conditional 2014 first-round pick (the Islanders can defer it to 2015 if it's in the top 10), a 2015 second-round pick and Matt Moulson for Vanek on Oct. 27. Snow knew even then that Vanek, headed for free agency on July 1, might choose to play out the season and get to the free-agent market, but made the deal anyway.
"We certainly understand the team will want to explore [a trade] and try to recoup some of the assets they gave up," Bartlett said. "We are getting close to that line in the sand time and we understand the risks and rewards of the situation we're in. Garth and the Islanders have been nothing but great in this whole process."
If Vanek does decide to spurn the Islanders, Bartlett reiterated what Vanek told Newsday last week -- that Vanek has enjoyed his time on the Island enough to want to consider them in the free-agent process this summer, even though the Islanders likely will be looking elsewhere by then.
"If it gets to the point where we say no, it's no but without slamming the door," Bartlett said. "Thomas has liked his teammates, his coaches, everything. The positives of this have far outweighed the negatives. But that's all a little premature right now."