Fallout from the Vanek-for-Moulson Trade.

In the aftermath of the Buffalo Sabres shipping Thomas Vanek to the NY Islanders for Matt Moulson and draft picks, do these two clubs have other moves in store?

BUFFALO NEWS: John Vogl reports Sabres GM Darcy Regier admitted the trade which shipped Thomas Vanek to the NY Islanders for Matt Moulson and draft picks was a deal “that has been worked on off and on for a while”, with the Sabres focus on landing draft picks. Vogl reports it’s possible Moulson, like Vanek a pending UFA next summer, won’t be a Sabre for long. “Most of these deals in the past have been deadline deals,” Regier said. “The deadline will come again.”

Moulson’s agent, Wade Arnott, claimed his client was heading to Buffalo with an open mind, and while there’s been no contract conversations yet with the Sabres, they’re interested in hearing the club’s plans.  The focus now shifts to Sabres goalie Ryan Miller, who’s also slated for UFA status next summer. Regier claims he’s had no discussions of late regarding his other free agents.

Can the Islanders retain Thomas Vanek?

Can the Islanders retain Thomas Vanek?

ESPN.COM: Katie Strang reports Vanek could turn out to be a high-priced rental player for the Islanders if he decides not to re-sign with them after this season. Moulson’s agent claims he’d had no substantive contract talks with the Islanders prior to this trade.

NEW YORK POST: Brett Cyrgalis reports Islanders GM Garth Snow saw this trade as an opportunity not to risk losing the momentum after making the playoffs last season.

CBC.CA: Elliotte Friedman points out this isn’t the first time Islanders GM Garth Snow has gambled on acquiring a notable potential rental player, doing the same thing (albeit later in the season) with Ryan Smyth in 2007. Smyth went on to sign with the Colorado Avalanche as a free agent later that summer. Friedman also notes the Islanders were able to convince Evgeni Nabokov and Lubomir Visnovsky to stay after they initially resisted joining the club, and suggests Snow could still “flip” Vanek if the winger remains uncommitted to re-signing with the Isles.

NEWSDAY: Arthur Staple reports Snow chose to shake things up among his top forward though the club has some depth issues with their defense and goaltending.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This move has the NHL world abuzz this morning (you can find my analysis of the trade here). Some readers suggest the only way this deal works for the Sabres is if Moulson gets shopped near the trade deadline, which I wouldn’t rule out. Moulson might be going to Buffalo with an open mind, but I expect he’ll test next summer’s UFA market, especially if he posts good numbers on a lousy Sabres team, which could also bolster his value near the trade deadline.

The Isles could move Vanek at the trade deadline, but I think they’re gambling on him having great chemistry with John Tavares to lift them into the playoffs next spring, after which they’ll take their chances on re-signing him. If the Isles fall out of contention by the deadline, however, I wouldn’t rule out Vanek being shopped near the deadline.

 I noted the Isles defensive and goaltending issues and how Vanek won’t address those problems, but this could be a case of building up a strength (in this case, the offense) to overcome weaknesses elsewhere, especially if there’s nothing currently in the market to address those weaknesses. 


  1. The only way this works for the Sabres is if Moulson gets shopped near the trade deadline?? The Sabres already made out like bandits on this. If they manage to trade Moulson and get even more out of trading Vanek the league may have to test Regier for brain steroids.

    • I fully agree. The Sabres won this deal regardless of the ultimate fate of the two players. The draft picks insure that Buffalo can’t lose on this deal.

      Darcy is vastly underrated as a GM.

      • Horrible deal for the Islanders.

        • Although the Isles paid a steep price to acquire Vanek – I don’t see it as a horrible deal. Not yet at least.

          Can only imagine what kind of numbers Vanek puts up if he finds chemistry with Tavares. I mean, look what Jonny T did for Matt Moulson. – No disrespect to Moulson as he is a capable goal scorer but Vanek is equipped with an elite skill set which will surely be fun to watch in Long Island.

          The thing I like most most about this deal is the timing. It provides the Islanders time to assess their roster, possibly negotiate with Vanek and if worse comes to worse flip him at the deadline if the playoffs are out of sight for a similar return – At the least, re-cooping the draft picks.

          • If Vanek stays healthy he might maybe put up 40-45 goals…maybe, Moulson would put up 30 at least probably so would you give up a first round pick and a second for maybe 10 goals?…and thats only if all works out perfectly. That is a horrible deal when the team needs D and goaltending.

        • I do nto know about horrible… If Vaneks does not resign then yes..

          Vanek is no joke serious upgrade to Moulson.

          • Serious upgrade? How you figure? Vaneks ppg .8 Moulson ppg .7 Vanek has had a couple decent centers as well, maybe not the same level as Taveres but he is not going to suddenly get 50-60 goals. The first round pick was a huge overpayment on top of Moulson, even if Snow resigns Vanek he could have got Moulson cheaper and the past couple years Moulson has been the better player. Nothing against Vanek he is a very good player but so is Moulson and throw the first and second round pick in on top…bad deal

    • Screw that. The cops will be looking at him for a string of highway robberies!!!!

      • The thing is both teams really have won so far. Sabres got the picks and a player back that they can either sign for less then Vanek or trade for more picks/prospects to a desperate team at the deadline.

        Isles have a glut of prospects and a mid round 1st round pick is not going to make or break them a couple of years from now. Don’t forget they were where the Sabres are now a few years ago. It is great that Wang opened up the wallet for this deal and it will be greater to see him do it long term. No way Snow makes this deal without knowing if Wang is going to sign off on a larger contract then JT91’s. Vanek is going to get his 7 million multi year deal again. Snow has a way of getting guys to take a little less. He did it with all his young guys including Tavares so give Vanek a few years there and who knows. Maybe he’ll sign for 6 or 6.5 for multi year deal.

        • “a few MONTHS” there not years is what I meant

  2. Draft picks are a bunch of question marks. Moulson could leave as UFA as the Sabres will be in shambles and losing Miller in the coming months too.

    Not sure how trading a high caliber player for two draft picks and a UFA player who is almost 30 is a good deal for the Sabres.

    • Last time I checked, the Sabres are all ready in SHAMBLES with Miller and now traded away Vanek. What is the worst that could happen? They trade Miller for another 1st and a 2nd and a prospect or two. Then turn around and sign Hiller in the offseason. That would give them atleast three 1st this year and at minimum 2 seconds.

      • Not to mention could probably dish Moulson off for another first… They could be looking at 4 first round picks by the time the season is up.

    • you are aware Vanek is a free agent and was leaving?

      • Well lets start with the guy the Sabres got has more goals than Vanek so far this year and the past 2 years besides that, and they got a first round pick to go with what is likely to be a top 5 pick this year…lol

  3. If both of these players test the free agent market the sabres will still get a 1st and 2nd. It might not seem like much but in the cap world at present I think the sabres should be pleased because I didn’t think they would be able to move Vanek at all. If either guy signs with his new club it will change the dynamics but I wouldn’t hold my breath on that one. If Vanek does not sign I should think Mr. Snow might be looking for another job when the Isles get bounced from the playoffs, that is of course he isn’t fired sooner when they don’t make the playoffs.

  4. The deal is fine as long as either Vanek signs or the Islanders flip Vanek for similar picks. Moulson was a one dimensional player who benefited from great chemistry with Tavares. He’s great below the dots and on the PP but a liability everywhere else. He wasn’t coming back.

    • buy why not keep moulson and shop the number 1 and 2 for something else? they have obviously overrated their d and need a goalie.

      moulson probably had a better shot at signing with the isles then vanek with the sabres. as many point out moulson’s numbers could be a reflection on tavares. moulson knows that and that might have just kept him there. there is no way vanek was resigning with the sabres and will not be resigning with the isles.

      this move makes no sense for the isles..

      • Exactly this..good point Joe, Snow gave up a first round pick and a second for if you look at their production over the past few years around 10-15 goals in a season and thats only if things work out swimmingly for Vanek in Long Island this year. Unless they flip Vanek, Snow made a very bad deal.

        • Maybe Snow got confused between Vanek and Miller???

      • I actually love the deal for the sabers. Move moulson for a pick or pick/prospect and they will continue that great rebuild they have going. At almost 30 moulson will not have a future with the team so why not move him?

        • The picks are what makes this deal bad, Moulson and a second or something maybe (and even then its a sideways move at best imo) but rental for rental goals for goals the first round pick is just way more valuable than the return of possibly 10 goals. Logically would you trade a first round pick for a 10 goal guy? Not to mention the salary difference which dosent really matter for Snow but still..

  5. My take on it is that the Islanders (Like Minnesota), have so many prospects (good ones) built up that they can afford to “lose” the trade in terms of the picks. Minnesota gave up their 1st round pick, a top goalie prospect (Hackett), and a top forward who some (Pierre McGuire) are convinced is a future captain in the NHL, and swapped their 2nd round pick for a 4th just to land Pominville. Why? Because Pominville is a multi dimensional player who is a leader and a goal scorer. He also had another year on his contract and just resigned. This move is along those lines. To compare Vanek and Moulson’s numbers is not a good perception of the advantage Vanek holds as an elite NHL player. He can play just as well as Moulson in front of the net but his playmaking and shot is much much better.
    That being said, the argument that he hasn’t had a good center is not accurate. Derek Roy had some good years as Vanek’s center and Hodgson has been a real playmaker with him on a bad team. He did well this year with a team that had no offensive pressure most games.

    The big thing here is that Snow has given his team a legitimate shot at resigning Vanek by having him play out the year on Long Island. Much like Buffalo, the place has a bad rep but players love living there and many of them stay. Lubo and Nabby resisted it at first as well and both have resigned.

    I could be wrong but this to me is a not an “if we don’t make the playoffs we trade him” move. This is a “We are going to make the playoffs and we are going to resign him” move.

    Good move. Still lots of assets left to trade as well for the Isles.

    Regier has always been a good GM. His biggest mistake was keeping Ruff too long. If he had fired Ruff a couple of seasons ago, the Sabres had the core of a team that could have gone very far. But player personnel wise most of his moves have been good ones along with good drafting. Its his coaching decisions that reak………as he finally fired Ruff but turned the inexpeienced Rolston to lead the youth movement. I’d liek to see Lavy get a shot with the lineup Rolston has. Rolston’s a great teacher and all but there’s something about experience that gains respect with players and I am not sure Rolston has it…..playing wise or coaching wise.

    • buy why not keep moulson and shop the number 1 and 2 for something else? like a need..

      • it could happen but Mouslon is going to want a lot……especially if he does well in Buffalo. Moulson is a great player and character guy like Pommer was but not sure he is going to be worth as much as he is going to demand and other teams may be willing to pay it. I could see another trade coming with Moulson ending up in a place like Edmonton. Regier likes those young guys like Takupov…just saying lol.

        • umm typo……yakupov

    • Good insight Pete. One of the few rational replies I have seen here. I personally like the trade for both teams. I think some have underestimated Vanek’s ability. If he gels with Tavares, watch out. Vanek has some of the best hands in the league.

      • 40 goals tops….traded 30 plus a first and a second to get it I just cant see it, not like Vanek has never played with a decent center, but we will see.

    • Couldn’t agree more. Nice in-depth analysis, first one I have read in a while!

  6. This is a steal for the Sabres. A first and a second would have been a steep price for Vanek to begin with (keeping in mind his UFA status as well as 7+ cap hit). The addition of Matt Moulsen makes this trade really lop sided. I see Moulsen being traded for a further first rounder come the trade deadline.
    Not sure how this works for Islanders, the only way it does is if the Isles can resign him. I don’t see a team putting up a first and a second at the trade deadline for a rental, there is no way the Islanders get their investment back. Snow better be a smooth talker if he wants to charm Vanek in committing to NYI long term. This isn’t a Nabakov type situation, Vanek is a lot more sought after and still has a lot of good years left in him.

    Once Minny releases Heatley at the end of the year and they make a solid pitch for Vanek’s services, its hard to imagine him not going there.

  7. I really like this trade for both teams. Gives Vanek the opportunity to play on a team that has a good shot of making the playoffs, allows him to develop chemistry with Tavares and who knows it gives the Islanders a chance to sign him. On the other hand Moulson gives Buffalo a type of player that is hard working, has character and someone that can mentor our youngsters. Bflo could be a team that Moulson steps out of the shadows and becomes “the man” – something Vanek wasn’t willing or able to do. It give Moulson most of the season to show Bflo what he brings to the table and if it doesn’t work, he’ll be a valuable asset to trade. The best part of the trade is that we got a 1st and 2nd round pick. Its funny how people say no GM’s want to deal with Darcy, but he ends up getting the most bang for his buck. I guess that is why GM’s don’t like him – he tough and wants the most value that he can get for his assets.

    What I find interesting is that the Islanders took all of Vanek’s salary – that gives Buffalo $8 in cap space. Does the extra cap space allow Darcy to take back salary with Miller? The one move that I would like to see Darcy make is a change with Rolston. IMO Rolston is over his head and while he may be a good teacher, I just don’t think he is NHL ready for coaching.

    • “something Vanek wasn’t willing or able to do”: I have heard otherwise and think you are completely off on this statement. He was a leader to the young guys and his peers and that is why he was given the C over a guy like Ehrhoff. Everything I have ever seen in person and read on him suggests that he was more than willing and quite able to mentor and teach the youngsters. Sticking around for a rebuild at 30 has nothing to do with that type of character and everything to do with winning before the career ends.
      Also, I don’t know where you heard that other GM’s don’t like Darcy as a person. Being tough to get a deal done with and being personable and likeable are different things. While anyone in the position of GM is there because they have thick skin, I have not heard or read of anyone disliking Darcy as a person. From what I know he has the respect of his peers and as for being a community guy there is no one better. Even from his time with the Islanders (yes he used to work there!!) he has always been a standup person in the community and great guy. A nice man to be blunt.
      Some will say the word Leino as his biggest mistake. In my opinion while that is not looking like a great move, and Gerbe has 3 goals and is on Carolina’s top line, the biggest mistake he made was staying loyal to Ruff for a few seasons too long. He had a team that needed a few tweaks and a new coach. Instead the team he built he had to dissect. No way he is loving trading away one of his best #1 picks in Vanek, his best 2nd round picks in Roy & Pommer, as well as some steals like Goose. Stafford still has a shot of being the top line wing everyone knows he can be. The question is….will it be in Buffalo?

  8. Good deal for the Islanders. Vanek is better than Moulson. Moulson for the past few years, had Tavares to make him a better player, Vanek makes players around him better as well. Put Vanek with Tavares, and they’re going to be deadly. But I agree, the Islanders should have used that exact same trade pieces to acquire Miller (if the Islanders are on Millers list that is). There are rumors that the Islanders are after Miller, and with the team that the Islanders now have, Miller might be more inclined to look again at them.

    • Vanek make Hodgson better?….nope, as I mentioned earlier its not like Vanek is going to put up 50+ goals or anything like that with the Islanders Moulson is just about guaranteed to put up 30 if they keep him so they gave up a first and second round pick for a rental that maybe might get an extra 10 goals or could also get less goals than Moulson could have got because right now and for the past 2 years he has scored more than Vanek.

      • With Moulson, that was all thanks to Tavares, Okposo and Grabner.

        • Parenteau looks pretty good in Colorado no?

          • And even if Taveres “made” Moulson a 30 goal guy, fact is the same they traded away a pretty sure 30 goals plus picks for a guy whos best year was just over 40 goals 6 years ago, its a bad deal.

    • Most people are ragging on Garth Snow for this deal, and I would tend to agree the Sabres got the better of it. However, Shticky points out that the Isles will only get about 10-15 goals (maximum) extra from Vanek. This is likely true.

      The way I see this deal work out for NYI is if Snow believes that 10-15 goals will be the difference between a playoff spot and non-playoff spot, or home ice advantage or no home ice. If those goals PLUS added time for chemistry with Tavares are a big bonus for the Isles in the playoffs, I think there’s a fair bit of value there.

  9. Steve Ott is now Captain

  10. Not to take anything away from Moulson, he is a good player…..but.

    He is 30 years old. There are a lot of players who would love to have and be able to pot goals with Tavares as your centreman.The Islanders have started to build some decent prospects in their system.

    My theory is they got Vanek so they can trade him again at the deadline to a contending team that needs that finisher. Maybe they trade him to a team with a surplus goalie who will need to replace a top 6 winger at the end of the season due to retirement. Vanek to Anaheim for a goalie plus a pick? Anaheim can sign Vanek to replace Selanne?

    • This could make things a whole lot more respectable, because right now this is a bad deal, there has to be something else.

    • This won’t happen. Why? Because all of the contending teams won’t be able to afford to give up assets without negatively dismantling most of a roster line. On top of that, Vanek is rumored to be extremely high on going to Minnesota in the off season…unless a team can re-sign/extend him to a very comforting contract for him. $7.5M, 5-6 year range.

  11. Question: can the Sabres now trade Miller without getting a lot of salary in return, or would they be below the cap floor?

    Or does this basically mean they *have* to wait to the deadline to trade him, no matter what, in order to make the $$$ work?

    • Nah if it came down to it it could make Miller even more valuable earlier than the deadline because if they wanted the Sabres could hold all of what they are allowed to by the cba with out even breaking a sweat to reach the cap floor and who ever gets Miller is only looking at a very reduced contract. The floor is 44 million.

      • Cool – thanks for the heads up, Shticky. I wasn’t sure of the Sabres salary cap situation, so then that makes a lot of sense. :)

  12. Another option for Miller could be Calgary. He ends up in the same west coast Division as all the teams in California, so he will be playing there a lot, which he and his wife would like. We know Burkie likes to take care of his fellow Americans, and Calgary has the draft picks that Buffalo wants to build up.

    The same rationale mostly applies to Edmonton but the one big difference is that Edmonton does not have the cap space, and Calgary has more than enough.

    • Some logic there, regardling location, but it only works if:

      A) Miller doesn’t have Calgary on his no-trade list/doesn’t agree to go.
      B) Calgary can sign him as part of a trade. Even if they over-perform this year, they’re still re-building. They don’t need to trade assets for a rental goallie; not at all what this team needs.

    • Why would Calgary, who are just about to begin their own rebuild, trade draft picks and/or prospects for maybe half a year out of miller? Really? Edmonton I can see doing it but Calgary?/ really?

  13. Edmonton cannot afford it unless they dump salary.Calgary has already started their rebuild.If you remember Feasters message after they traded Iginla, he said the owner told him he still wanted to win “now.” To me that means he still wants a decent team while building up the prospects.I think Miller has a few good years left and may be willing to resign in Alaska, if only to get out of Buffalo
    Who saw Vanek going to the Islanders? Everyone saw him going to Minny (still might!)

    Anything is possible.

    • Lets maybe think this way Vanek for Heatly Dumba Kuemper?If Snow continues building with Vanek could possibly fill 2 holes in the future, that he probably couldn’t do with Moulson. Possibly

  14. I think this trade was good for both teams. Buffalo got the draft picks and the rental who they will probably trade at the deadline because they are rebuilding. Islanders got a skilled player who might preform magic playing with Tavares. Let’s face it if Vanek has chemistry with Tavares he might choose to resign. I do think Snow is making the right choice to make a move to continue making the playoffs. This move will pay off if Vanek helps them make the playoffs and New York has the young talent they can afford to give up the picks. Now the big question is has Craig Mac gone AWOL what is he waiting for?

  15. Everyone is saying bad deal because Vanek only has the Potential to score 10-15 more goals than Moulson, but that’s huge. Thats make or break in a playoff spot or home ice, or going deeper into playoffs which = more revenue! Also consider that its not like adding a 10-15 goal player because they have approx. same ice time but more goals!

    • This is if (a pretty big if) Vanek gets 10-15 more goals than Moulson which is no guarantee, the past couple years Moulson has scored more than Vanek. What if that continues? You just traded the better player a first and a second round pick for less goals higher salary and its not like Vanek brings much more than goal scoring. Ya great deal ! Not even mentioning what it does to the chemistry of your team. Moulson was a leader in the Islanders room by all accounts. Finally 10 goals is not going to matter if instead of 6-4 you are losing games 6-5 because you didnt address the main problem, shaky defence and shaky goaltending.

  16. I think people are forgetting something here … this isn’t just about Vanek benefiting from JT … but how JT and Okposo/Granber benefit from Vanek.

    • Look at Vaneks possession time (its not great…or even good for that matter)…he doesn’t really make players “better”. He is a shooter!

  17. Do the NYIs now make a pitch for Ryan Miller? The Isles have lots of promising, affordable blueline prospects that the Sabres might find attractive. The sticky thing is that Miller is a UFA after this season. Could Garth convince him to stay? It would be a big risk, but it depends how much Regier would insist on for Miller. The Isles have to do something about a No. 1 goalie — and soon.