The path to Mathew Barzal to the New York Islanders all starts with a failed experiment to get John Tavares a winger. It ends with the Edmonton Oilers screwing up.
In 2013 the New York Islanders had been on the hunt for a top level winger for John Tavares since the dawn of time. I mean…2009. Close enough. Garth Snow thought he might have found him in Buffalo Sabres Thomas Vanek.
The Isles gave up Matt Moulson, a lottery protected first-round pick in 2014, and a second-round pick in 2015 for Vanek.
And for a while, they had found the winger they were looking for. In his time on Long Island Thomas Vanek produced 44 points in 47 games. Vanek has even stated that the best line he played on in his NHL career is with John Tavares and Kyle Okposo.
Success! Except for one issue. Brooklyn. The team hadn’t moved yet, but it was already confirmed that by 2015-16, the Islanders would leave Nassau to play at the Barclays Center. And Vanek wanted none of it. He even reportedly turned down a seven-year $50 deal from the Islanders.
All so he didn’t have to play in Brooklyn. If you do the math (and I have) and consider Vanek’s career since his move from Long Island, his decision to stay away from Brooklyn has cost him ~$4.468 million to date and a potential extra $21.426 million in the three years he’d have left on his deal after this season. (I hope hating Brooklyn was almost $30 million to Vanek).
We know that the Islanders eventually got peanuts back for Vanek from Montreal. That left them without a first-round pick in 2014. At least for some time.