In a shocking trade of pending unrestricted free agent left wings, the New York Islanders have acquired Thomas Vanek from the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for winger Matt Moulson and two draft picks, including a 2014 first-round pick and a 2015 second-round pick.
Moulson, a 30-goal scorer in all three of his full (non-lockout) NHL seasons, is a longtime friend and linemate of Islanders captain John Tavares, though the Isles had experimented with him off of Tavares' wing this year.
Vanek is a dynamic scorer and a bigger name than Moulson, but that's arguably because he made the NHL at an earlier age. Vanek is a better skater and puck mover, so the Isles are no doubt counting on that to alleviate pressure from Tavares which Moulson, who is a clinical finisher in the offensive zone, cannot quite do in the other two zones.
Both players are 29 years old and set to cash in this summer as unrestricted free agents. Is Vanek better than Moulson by a large enough margin to fetch two valuable draft picks? And will Vanek take to Long Island -- he is an Austrian like fellow Islander and friend Michael Grabner -- well enough to sign a contract extension before hitting the market this summer?
That's what the Islanders, who are treading water at 4-4-3 through 11 games, are counting on.
UPDATE: Newsday's Arthur Staple has the first quotes from Islanders general manager Garth Snow, including:
#Isles GM Snow: "I didn't like the way we’d been playing. We’re better than our record indicates and we need to take the next step."— Arthur Staple (@StapeNewsday) October 28, 2013
Snow on Moulson: "Matt has been a great player for us the past few years. Obviously he's a good person." #Isles— Arthur Staple (@StapeNewsday) October 28, 2013
This is uncharacteristically fast movement by Snow, in terms of striking this early in the season. His mention of the "next step" and other quotes via Staple indicate he believes the team needs to not just be as good as it was last year, but better. And now.
More from Lighthouse Hockey:
- Matt Moulson-Thomas Vanek Trade Made without Contract Extension Talks
- No Pizza For Spicoli: Saying Goodbye to Matt Moulson
- Darcy Regier: Thomas Vanek/Matt Moulson trade was 'off and on' for a while
- NHL Suspension Puzzle: Zdeno Chara is a star, Michael Grabner is an Islander
- Streit as an Arrow: Ex-Islanders Captain Returns as a Flyer