The New York Islanders haven’t exactly lived up to the preseason hype that was heaped onto them this year. Even though they made their first playoff appearance since 2008 last season, the Isles stumbled out of the gate to start the 2013-14 campaign, and currently sit near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings.
Despite all of this, New York is actually heating up, winning eight of their last nine games. This streak includes impressive wins over the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks. The team also scored four or more goals in five of these victories.
One of the biggest catalysts for all of this has been the play of Thomas Vanek. Acquired from the Buffalo Sabres this past October in exchange for Matt Moulson, the Austrian forward has scored 17 points in his past 12 games. Vanek was brought in to boost the Islanders’ scoring, and it’s safe to say he’s doing so as of late.
Has this surge helped Vanek, an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, make any progress in getting a new contract with New York? More importantly, are the Islanders a team he’d want to stick around with?
Well, in regards the second question, Vanek has claimed he’s enjoyed his time on Long Island so far. To be fair, they’re still infinitely better than what he’d be dealing with if he was still in Buffalo. That said, Vanek is trying not to be distracted by any sort of negotiations for the time being.
“I’m sure we’ll talk, but I’m trying to stay out of it,” Vanek said. “Until something gets close, I need to focus on the games.”
It certainly sounds like, if there are any sort of talks going on at the moment, they aren’t very substantial. This makes plenty of sense, simply because we’re just past the midway point of the season and the Islanders need to put more energy into boosting their place in the standings. That said, at 29 years of age, Vanek is definitely in his prime, and New York needs to seriously consider resigning him.
Thanks to the fact that the Islanders are in the Eastern Conference, they aren’t out of the playoff picture just yet. They’re seven points behind the eighth place Detroit Red Wings, and this current hot streak can definitely close that gap if it continues.
If Vanek does want to stay on with the Islanders, he’ll need to keep up his offensive production and help the team attempt a surge up the standings. It would certainly go a long way towards not only heating up contract talks, but adding a few more dollars to it as well.