Anyway, the NHL and every other kind of content programmer this side of The View-like origins intentionally plans little to compete with the Super Bowl. (Shame they don't have an emergency chute in the event that the game itself sucks like it's the '90s.) So in the absence of news ... rumors fill the void! Let's get to it.
As a reminder, the NHL's Olympic trade freeze begins Friday and ends Feb. 23. Then the real trade deadline comes March 5. In other words, it's going to be a long mother-Averying month.
Thomas Vanek is Still an Islander...for Now
Nothing new on Thomas Vanek Watch, so...
[UPDATE: But wait, yes there is: Newsday updates mid-morning with belief that Vanek has turned down the Isles' offer. Fresh LHH post and comment thread on Vanek Panic over here.]
...first we'll just recenter you with this agent quote from Newsday, now four days old (the article, not the publication; the newspaper goes back a wee bit longer than that):
If Vanek does decide to spurn the Islanders, Bartlett reiterated what Vanek told Newsday last week -- that Vanek has enjoyed his time on the Island enough to want to consider them in the free-agent process this summer, even though the Islanders likely will be looking elsewhere by then.
"If it gets to the point where we say no, it's no but without slamming the door," Bartlett said. "Thomas has liked his teammates, his coaches, everything. The positives of this have far outweighed the negatives. But that's all a little premature right now."
Ironically, if the Austrian captain is truly torn on whether to sign or test the waters, the Islanders' current struggles should actually focus the decision-making: It's not about this year, but about the next five (or six or seven or eight, depending on the offers) seasons of his career. He likes the area and the organization has treated him right; can his family dig it and can he believe in the franchise's competitive future?
Meanwhile, will the Islanders make a decision sooner rather than later? Bob McKenzie doesn't think so:
The New York Islanders have to decide what they're going to do, but that will be a last-minute decision right at the deadline. Either they're all in adding players or selling Thomas Vanek as a rental to cut their losses.
But what can they get as a rental? Will they have to take (unwanted) salaries back to make it work for a trade partner? Kevin Allen of USA Today sounds the familiar theme:
He would top the list, except his salary cap hit tops $7 million. Some teams would have difficulty fitting even his pro-rated salary into their structure. But think how much the Los Angeles Kings or Minnesota Wild could use his scoring ability.
Buffalo News writer John Vogl doesn't have news to add on that front, but more media opinion on the kind of demand to expect from Vanek:
He’s shown a trade won’t impact his production. His playoff experience is a bonus. Vanek put up 15 goals and 20 points in 36 games with the Sabres. The postseason is what rentals are all about.
Separately, but also from McKenzie, and of interest in terms of watching market prices:
Matt Moulson would be a great rental from the Buffalo Sabres, but the price is high - a first-round pick and a prospect - and he's injured until after the Olympic break.
Can I Interest You in an A-Mac?
As for the Islanders' other very tradeable pending UFA, Lightning beat writer Damian Cristodero of the Tampa Bay Times echoes an argument so many make for saying Andrew MacDonald could fetch serious interest:
MacDonald, 27, would be a thrilling addition. He averages 25:41 of ice time, seventh in the league, and with three goals and 23 points has an offensive instinct.
New York is nine points out of a playoff spot and could decide to unload MacDonald, who makes just $575,000 this season but is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent and likely is in line for a big increase. MacDonald plays in all situations and would let coach Jon Cooper even more efficiently slot his remaining defensemen.
- Check out even strength on-/off-ice percentages for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
- The hallucinogenic and herbally refreshing "Cubist Coyote" will live ... for at least one more day.
- Ben Bishop and Brandon Prust had a, ahhh, we'll call it a "dust up" caught on tape. [Puck Daddy]
- It has been  days since our last argument about plus/minus. Alex Ovechkin and the problem with plus/minus - SBNation.com
- Even more plus/minus fun, this time in reference to Nail Yakupov. [Copper & Blue]
- Please enjoy this 2005 Team Austria jersey along with a preview of the 2014 Olympic entry. [Third String Goalie]