Hold onto your hats, Isles fans. As per New York Islanders beat writer Arthur Staple, the New York Islanders have traded LW Matt Moulson to the Buffalo Sabres for LW Thomas Vanek. The deal also includes the Isles’ 2014 first-round pick and 2015 second-round pick in the NHL Entry Draft:
— Arthur Staple (@StapeNewsday) October 28, 2013
It was well documented that the Islanders likely wouldn’t be able to pay Moulson the $5 million per season he’d probably seek this summer as an unrestricted free agent, which led to speculation that he’d be dealt before the end of the 2013-14 NHL season. Still, the deal took many by surprise.
In 11 games this season, Moulson has six goals and three assists for the Isles, good for fourth place on the team. His recent increase in production on the power play certainly bolstered his case for a big-time payday come free agency, which may have played a part in general manager Garth Snow‘s decision to deal the perennial 30-goal scorer.
To this point in the season, Vanek leads the Sabres with nine points in 13 games (4G, 5A). He, too, will be an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2014. His current deal is for seven years and $50 million. Vanek’s current cap hit is $6.4 million, one the Islanders can absorb with little difficulty, being that they have approximately $14.9 million in cap space — the most in the league.
At initial glance, this deal appears to be the product of the Islanders wanting to move Moulson for some kind of return, rather than letting him walk for nothing this offseason.
Stay tuned to EyesOnIsles.com for continuing coverage and analysis of the deal. Be sure to follow me on the Twitter (@MichaelWillhoft) so we can talk about the trade. I’ll be hosting a support group starting Tuesday night in the church basement (or online, if you can’t make it in person).