The Islanders never fail to surprise their fans. Lately, it’s been in a good way. This one however, brings about some mixed emotions. This evening, fan favorite, and all around nice guy, Matt Moulson was traded to the Buffalo Sabres for a 1st Round draft pick in 2014, a 2nd Round pick in 2015 and oh, a little known winger by the name of Thomas Vanek. At first glance you say WHOA, what just happened? Moulson was the Isles heart & soul! Remember, Matt Moulson;s contract was up after this season.
Let’s take a look deeper at this.
Tale of the Tape
29 Years Old, 6’2″, 208 lbs
598 GP, 254 Goals, 253 Assists
2006-07 43 Goals, 41 Assists in 82 Games Played
29 Years Old, 6’1″, 210 lbs
323 GP, 124 Goals, 108 Assists
2011: 36 Goals, 33 Assists in 82 Games Played
Both men are Free Agents at the end of the season. The Islanders clearly needed some kind of spark. They were badly outplayed last night by a very bad Philadelphia Flyers team. Even Garth Snow didn’t like what he saw.
He stated ” 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.”
Many people believed that he spark they needed was in net or on defense. No one really expected the Isles to bolster the offense. Many people had been clamoring for Vanek during the entire offseason. An offseason in which GM Garth Snow laid low for the most part. Aside from the Cal Clutterbuck pick up and the Peter Regin and Pierre-Marc Bouchard signings, the Isles didn’t do much. They did now.
Snow obviously knows you have to give something to get something. “Matt has been a great player for us the past few years. Obviously he’s a good person.”, Snow said.
He added, “Thomas is an elite player in this league and he’ll help us now and in the future.”
This is very reminiscent of the Ryan Smyth trade. Garth is not afraid to take chances or go for broke. He is a fan’s GM in every sense. He bleeds blue and orange and will do what he has to do to make this team get better.
There is no question that Vanek will be paired with John Tavares on the first line. With Vanek by his side, it’s entirely possible JT just got better.
There seems to be a missing piece here though. It’s pretty obvious that Ryan Miller is still out there waiting to be dealt. Was he possibly part of something bigger that didn’t get done? That is just speculation on my part.
What We Do Know
Both men are free agents to be after this season. Vanek’s agent, Michael Bartlett said, “We’ll take it day by day and focus on the short term for now and see where we are at season’s end.” Hopefully he will thrive on the Island and grow with the team for years to come.
Also, don’t discount the possibility of John Tavares in between Michael Grabner and his new fellow Austrian teammate. Just like Moulson & Tavares were close, don’t be surprised if Vanek and Grabner form a bond. Pairing those 3 would just be a lethal line for teams to contend with.
Ironicall,y neither men will have to change numbers. They both wear 26.
The last time the Islanders made a major trade with Buffalo was almost 22 years ago to the day.
That trade worked out pretty well for both teams. The Isles would not have made the unlikely run in 1993 without Benoit, Pierre & Uwe. Who can forget that picture of Uwe Krupp picking up the penguin stuffed animal someone threw on the ice after the Isles upset the defending Stanley Cup Champion Penguins.
There is no conclusion yet. It remains to be seen how Vanek fits in with his new teammates. He very well could be an exciting addition to the team and give them a much needed jump in their step. Vanek will be thrown right into the fire. His first game as an Islander should be Tuesday night, vs the New York Rangers.
Welcome to the jungle, buddy.