COLUMBUS -- The Thomas Vanek Watch is on. But don’t expect any sort of resolution until this season is much closer to its conclusion.
Vanek has been an Islander for two weeks now and played his sixth game on Saturday night here. He has no contract beyond this season, which has confounded some observers and fans. How could Garth Snow have dealt popular top-line wing Matt Moulson plus a first-round pick in 2014 and a second-rounder in 2015 for a player on an expiring deal?
Snow is banking on selling Vanek on the Islanders being on the upswing, plus the lifestyle on Long Island that has swayed a fair number of families before. But neither team nor player is going to make a big move yet, not with the Isles’ season only 17 games old.
“As of right now, it’s about winning games. That’s the main reason I didn’t sign in Buffalo --- I want to win,” Vanek told Newsday this past week. “For me to be out of there earlier than expected gives me that opportunity, and that’s all I’m worried about right now.”
The Vanek-John Tavares-Kyle Okposo line has been dominant at times, effective at others. It misfired only against the Rangers, barely 48 hours after the trade, and in Raleigh on Thursday, when the group looked a bit gassed.
But having three playmakers on the same line to keep opposing defensemen guessing as to whom they need to mark closest has proved to be a good strategy.
“For me, to bring my game to them and what I can bring is to make plays in small areas, give them more time and space to do their thing,” Vanek said. “We can take a lot of pressure off each other. We had two as a line \[in Washington on Tuesday\] but we could have had six or seven.”
If the Islanders continue to stumble along deep into the season, Snow will have the option of shopping Vanek around; that would render this big early-season gamble a wasted move. But Snow and the Islanders don’t seem too unsure of this deal two weeks in.