Five (of 30) Thoughts: Elliotte Friedman on Snow, Sabres & Vanek Trade Background

I'm a comin'! - Bruce Bennett

The venerable column sheds a few more beams of light on the only thing we're allowed to talk about this week.

Elliotte Friedman's weekly 30 Thoughts column for CBC.ca is a must read for all serious hockey fans. Even before he was cast as "The Professor" in Hockey Night in Canada's often bombastic intermission show, "Gilligan's Panel," Friedman was a trusted name among NHL insiders.

Among many topics, his column this week contains more than one Thought regarding the Islanders' acquisition of Thomas Vanek, so I figured it was worth breaking out into its own thread. First, the info from Friedman:

2. Islanders GM Garth Snow is getting grief for taking Thomas Vanek instead of Ryan Miller, but the way Miller is going, do you think (ed. note: Sabres GM Darcy) Regier is trading him for Matt Moulson's expiring contract, a first-round and second-round draft pick? Me neither. Regier said Monday he has "no offers" for Miller, and really hasn't had any since the summer. When the goalie does get traded, the bet is it's for a price Snow wasn't willing to pay for a rental.

3. Cody Hodgson had some good insight into playing with Vanek. "When we got over the blue-line, he wanted me to give him the puck," the centre said. "He wants to create." Curious to see how he fits with John Tavares, another guy who likes to have it and, sources say, is pretty good with it.

4. Will Snow make Vanek a big offer to stay? The Islanders have several players who agreed to take less in a tough financial situation, because they enjoyed it on Long Island. So did the Sabres, who admitted their room was badly damaged by the huge contracts for Christian Ehrhoff and Ville Leino. Teams must be very cognizant of this.

5. By the way, a few teams are watching one of Snow's guys very closely: defenceman Andrew MacDonald. He's unrestricted after the season, and a greatly improved player.

6. So who didn't get Vanek? Blues GM Doug Armstrong doesn't play the speculation game, but it is believed St. Louis is in "we are going for it -- now" mode. They are a legit Stanley Cup contender and Vanek's skill set could have provided an extra dimension. By the way, when Buffalo does decide to trade Miller, there is no shortage of execs around the NHL who believe St. Louis will be part of that discussion.

My takeaways from this intelligence (which is probably totally wrong):

1. Regier is most likely angling for a top prospect in return for Miller. No shock there. It sounds like Snow wasn't down for sending one the kids the Islanders are so high on to the Sabres. This probably answers the "Why Moulson?" question in that the Islanders could acquire Vanek for a player that might not come back and not a prospect they can still develop and, most importantly, retain the rights to for a while longer. Losing Moulson, as many have pointed out, costs the Islanders goals but Vanek should replace and, theoretically, eclipse them. Garth's focus seemed on getting Vanek but not touching the prospect pool.

2. Cody Hodgson can read minds, specifically mine. Must be a mutant.

3. The Ehrhoff/Leino information is surprising and disturbing. There's no guarantee that a fissure could happen to the Islanders locker room should Snow drive a fleet of Chevy Suburbans full of money to Vanek's front door. Perhaps it's the newcomers aspect that ticked off the Sabres players. Or maybe it was because all that moolah went to Christian Ehrhoff and Ville Leino.

4. I resigned myself to the fact that MacDonald will probably not finish the season with the Islanders a while ago, but you never know. He could get an extension tomorrow. But I'm also sure that Lubomir Visnovsky's injury is impacting the Islanders ability to move MacDonald should they want to. I know, another shock.

5. Interesting that the Blues are looking to goose a roster that's second in the league in goals per game. But why trade for Vanek when Alex Steen is a buzzsaw right now? And another goalie, Doug? Really?

The plot thickens...

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