Credit: Jim McIssac
With the Olympic trade freeze coming up at 3:00 PM on Friday, many teams are starting to explore options on the trade market. One of the biggest names on the market is Thomas Vanek, a left winger on the New York Islanders. The 30-year-old rejected a “substantial” long-term offer from the Islanders on Monday afternoon and trade talks have been heating up ever since. TSN hockey insiders Bob McKenzie and Pierre LeBrun both have mentioned that the Pittsburgh Penguins and Los Angeles Kings have interest in Vanek. LeBrun mentioned the Penguins in a post on TSN’s website this morning and McKenzie reported that Pittsburgh is a possibility for Vanek yesterday on TSN. Vanek has recorded 47 points (19 goals and 28 assists) in 55 games this season with New York and Buffalo. Because of his $5.75 million cap hit for this season, a deal is unlikely to happen before the Olympic trade freeze on Friday.
Does a deal for Vanek make sense for the Penguins? Most people would probably say no. Pittsburgh does not have much cap space left, which would force them to make room for him if they want to acquire him. Another big factor with him is his desire to test the free agent market. He has made it clear that he wants to test it this offseason regardless of what happens this season. It would be a big risk for Pittsburgh to make room for Vanek and send a package that included a first round pick and prospects to New York for a player who may only be with the Penguins for a few months. Would the Islanders even consider trading him to a division rival like the Penguins? That will be up to Garth Snow to decide. Vanek is a great player and would succeed in Pittsburgh, but is it worth the risk? The Vanek scenario should be one of the most interesting stories to watch at the trade deadline.