NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Barring something unforeseen, Thomas Vanek and Andrew MacDonald will be ex-Islanders by Wednesday afternoon.
The idea that either will remain on Long Island after the trade deadline expires at 3 p.m. is basically nonexistent considering they will both be unrestricted free agents this summer and turned down lucrative extensions from the Islanders earlier in the season.
But where will they go, and, more importantly for Islanders fans, what will general manager Garth Snow get in return? The answers to those questions could begin to ease the pain of a season of promise that went badly off the rails early and has gotten worse since.
Dealing with the loss of franchise center John Tavares for the rest of the season due to a knee injury suffered in Sochi, the Islanders (23-32-8) emerged from the Olympic break with two losses in three games, giving them four defeats on their season-high five-game homestand. They suffered an especially horrifying 5-3 defeat to Florida on Sunday, blowing yet another two-goal third-period lead.
New York is an astonishingly bad 2-6-4 in such situations this season.
Vanek scored twice and added an assist in the loss, giving him 44 points in 47 games with the Islanders since they acquired him from Buffalo back in October. The 30-year-old winger has scored at least 20 goals in all nine of his NHL seasons.
Following the awful homestand, Vanek and MacDonald pondered their futures, admitting they have hardly a clue where they will end up by Wednesday afternoon.
Vanek told Newsday on Monday that if the Islanders were a “top echelon” team he might have accepted the seven-year, $50 million deal he rejected back in January.
“I can tell you that winning does make a big difference,” Vanek said.
MacDonald turned down a four-year, $16 million deal earlier this season, an offer that if accepted would have paid him roughly seven times more than he’s making with the Islanders this season.
“I don’t know anything different,” the defenseman said Sunday, referring to his six-year NHL career, all spent with the Islanders. “You try not to think about it, but obviously it’s running through your mind. It’s a business and that’s just how it is right now, I guess.”
The one thing that should work in the Islanders’ favor is the fact that Vanek and MacDonald are among the best players available at the deadline. According to various reports, several teams have inquired about Vanek, with one serious offer that Snow rejected, and MacDonald is considered the type of puck-moving defenseman teams all around the NHL covet.
Best case scenario is the Islanders get a first round pick for each player, and possibly some prospects. Anything more is asking a lot considering both Vanek and MacDonald have made it clear they play on testing free agency, making them the standard definition of a rental player.
The Islanders will open a four-game road trip in Winnipeg on Tuesday night. Vanek and MacDonald will travel with the team and play unless deals are reached, Newsday reported.
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