Tuesday, February 4, 2014
Rumblings: Will Vanek be moved soon?
By Pierre LeBrun
The New York Islanders have fielded a number of calls on Thomas Vanek in the past day or so and it's possible the star winger could be dealt by Friday's Olympic roster freeze.
Far from certain, but possible, a source close to the situation told ESPN.com Tuesday.
Once news got out Monday via Arthur Staple of Newsday that Vanek had rejected a contract offer from the Islanders -- and Vanek's agent, Stephen Bartlett, confirmed to ESPN.com that his client was very likely going to the July 1 UFA market -- Isles GM Garth Snow's phone began to light up.
The early word around the league is that the cost to snag Vanek would be a three-asset haul, whether those assets are first-round picks or prospects or a player. It could be any combination. And if one of the assets is high-end enough, perhaps a two-asset package could do it.
Reached by ESPN.com Tuesday, all Snow would say is that he valued Vanek's presence on Long Island.
"I hope Thomas Vanek retires an Islander," Snow said. "I still hope to re-sign him."
Bartlett indicated the Islanders no doubt would be among the options his client would look at come July 1. But in the meantime, Snow has to protect himself, which is why he's fielding trade calls.
Among the teams keeping tabs on the Vanek situation are the Los Angeles Kings, although a source Tuesday suggested he might not be their top target. My guess is that would be Matt Moulson, although as reported before, Sam Gagner and Mike Cammalleri are also options for L.A.
Still, Vanek is on L.A.'s shopping list to some degree, no question.
But whether the interest comes from L.A. or any other contender, the salary cap is an issue for all those teams and Vanek's $5.75 million cap number is large. Which is why his trade could wait until closer to March 5, even if, in a perfect world, the Islanders would like to ship him off by Friday's Olympic freeze.
Seguin's brush with the Sabres
Speaking of Vanek, there's an interesting story in Tuesday's Buffalo News from John Vogl reporting that the Sabres and Bruins had talks last June about a Vanek-Tyler Seguin package.
A source close to those talks told ESPN.com Tuesday that a trade between Buffalo and Boston never really came that close but, yes, there had been discussions.
It's always fun to look back at the deals that didn't materialize, those can be just as interesting as the ones that actually happen.
While Seguin -- who was dealt to Dallas with Rich Peverly and Ryan Button for Loui Erkisson, Joe Morrow, Matt Fraser and Reilly Smith -- would have been a stellar acquisition in Buffalo, don't discount the haul from Vanek that might yet end up benefiting the Sabres. They got Matt Moulson and a first-round pick in the fall, and when Moulson is dealt he'll yield another package of assets. It certainly could all work out nicely, thank you, on the overall Vanek yield for Buffalo.
Steve Ott generating trade buzz
There has been so much focus on Matt Moulson that you forget the Buffalo Sabres have a long list of pending UFAs, and another forward generating lots of interest is Steve Ott.
"Perhaps more than Moulson," said one NHL team executive on Tuesday.
Ott is the kind of grinding center that playoff-bound teams would love to add and it sounds like he’s going to be moved before March 5.
Koivu, Stamkos updates
The Steven Stamkos decision is going down to the wire, to use his own words, in terms of going to Sochi.
But another situation that's just as intriguing but is getting less fanfare is that of Mikko Koivu.
It's been four weeks since his ankle surgery and it doesn't appear as though he'll get a game in before the break this week. Will he get medical clearance to go to Sochi?
Talk about a devastating blow to Finland if the Finns don't get their top forward for the Olympics. As it is, it's a team that doesn't have much offensive punch. Losing Koivu would be brutal. You know he's going to do everything he can to be there, but at the end of the day, the word of the team doctors, one assumes, will rule the day.
Speaking of Stamkos, he's due to have important medical tests done in Tampa on Wednesday, which if all goes well, will give him the green light to play Saturday night. Then, he needs to see how he feels after that game before conferring with Steve Yzerman and Lightning doctors on whether he's a go for Sochi. First things first, though, those medical tests Wednesday will be very important.
Legwand on the block?
David Legwand's name is making the rounds more and more in the trade rumor mill, with two team execs mentioning his name to me Tuesday.
The pending UFA center has a full no-trade clause, so he controls his fate to some degree.
But he's also one of the very few centers on the trade market, which might net Nashville a decent return. On the other hand, the Predators are still very much in the playoff race. Sounds like this one goes down to the wire closer to March 5.
Canucks' future adrift
On Dec. 29, the Vancouver Canucks won 2-0 in Calgary to improve to 23-11-7 on the season. They've since gone 4-10-2 heading into Tuesday night's big game at Boston.
Some of it is injury-related to be sure, but the decline in play and performance has made Canucks management reflect on where this team needs to go moving forward.
So I suspect any moves you see the Canucks make from here on in will have a bigger-picture feel, the organization realizing it is no longer among the elite clubs in the league after knocking at the door for a half decade, understanding that it needs to inject more youth into its lineup to remain on the right track.
So, forget any trades for a rental player to help get a few more wins this season. While the Canucks still hope to get healthy and win a round or two this season, management's focus between now and the March 5 trade deadline, but probably especially in the offseason, will be to move some veteran bodies out the door and get a bit younger. It's the smart thing to do.
The Sedin twins aren't going anywhere, but I would surmise that other than them over the next year, almost any other veteran player could be moved if it's a deal that makes sense for the Canucks.