However, the one thing that gets in the way is his cap hit. Currently, he has a $5.75 million cap hit for the Islanders after the Buffalo Sabres held on to $1.4 million in the deal that sent him to Long Island. The key for a deal to happen this season is for the Islanders to hold on to some of his salary in order to trade him.
Ken Campbell of The Hockey News noted that the Minnesota Wild, a team widely believed to be interested in acquiring him at the deadline or through free agency, could be a team that the Islanders could deal with and get a good return.
Campbell believes that Vanek would normally fetch a first-round pick at the trade deadline. Now, if the Islanders held on to half of Vanek’s cap hit, the Wild would only be on the hook for $2.9 million. It could also entice the Wild to include a young player. Campbell lists Charlie Coyle, Jason Zucker, Justin Fontaine, Matt Dumba and Mario Lucia as possibilities.
Getting a first-rounder and a young player like one of the ones listed above would be great for the Islanders after giving up so much to acquire Vanek. For a team that made the playoffs last season and had high hopes for this year, the Islanders are once again forced to retool. Dealing Vanek will help with that endeavor.