The 6-4, 220-pound Vasicek, who will turn 27 when training camp opens next month, had his best NHL season in 2003-04 when he was 19-26-45 in 82 games with the Carolina Hurricanes. He was a member of the Stanley Cup champion Carolina squad in 2006 and Cup Finalist team in 2002. With added responsibility and under Ted Nolan’s direction, Vasicek could be poised for a breakout season.
“Josef is an extremely talented center who’s 6-4, strong in his own zone, been in winning situations and, at age 26, just entering his prime,” said Islanders general manager Garth Snow. “What makes this an important signing for us is that no one questions his work ethic and determination. I remember when I was playing giving him a shot because he was too close to my net. He went right back at me and let it be known that just because I was a veteran and he was a kid, he wasn’t going to take it. We’re really looking forward to giving him an opportunity to take his game to the next level.”
In 379 NHL games with Carolina and Nashville, the Czech Republic native, is 61-87-148 with 258 penalty minutes. He was selected by Carolina in the fourth round of the NHL Draft in 1998 and then played two seasons with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the Ontario Hockey League.
“You look at Vasicek’s career so far and he’s been to two Stanley Cup Finals with Carolina, winning one Cup, so he has seen what it takes to win,” said Islanders head coach Ted Nolan. “That’s invaluable experience for a player this talented and who is still so young. As a staff we like his character, so we know he’s a player we can work with to maximize his potential.”
From his home in Havlickuv Brod, Vasicek shared the reasons for his excitement over signing with the Islanders.
“From the beginning, I thought the Islanders were the right team for me and I really wanted to come to Long Island,” said Vasicek. “Ted Nolan is known for being a great players’ coach and I feel I can learn a lot from him. I’m also really happy to be on the same team as my buddy Radek Martinek. There are only about 25,000 people in the town of Havlickuv Brod, and now we are going to have two players from here on the Islanders. Radek and I have been working out together in the summer for the last seven years and it’s going to be so great to be his teammate.”