Vanek has only played in six games so far with the Islanders since being acquired in a trade with the Buffalo Sabres earlier in the year. With New York, the former Sabres star has a goal and two assists.
"I'm really anxious," Vanek said. "I didn't get to play many games with my new team here so it's tough to watch. But at the same time it's a long season. It's important to be healthy and be 100 percent out there."
"We need him back in there," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. "It helps our power play, it helps Johnny's [Tavares] line. When a guy comes back it's usually the pace of the game. So he's been skating hard, he's been working hard off the ice and he was questionable in Toronto but we had a couple extra days to get him back." (NHL.com)
Vanek has been out since leaving the Islanders' Nov. 9 game against the Columbus Blue Jackets just 23 seconds into the contest.
The Islanders went 2-3-0 while Vanek was out. Having a player of his prowess on the top line should help as the club tries to climb out of last place in the Metropolitan Division.
In 19 total games this year, Vanek has five goals and 12 points.