Sabres Ship Vanek To Islanders For Moulson & Picks.

The Buffalo Sabres tonight dealt left wing Thomas Vanek to the New York Islanders in exchange for winger Matt Moulson, a first round draft pick in 2014 and a second round pick in 2015.

Thomas Vanek.

Thomas Vanek.

 SPECTOR’S NOTE: Trades of this magnitude usually take place near the trade deadline and not this early in the season. In this case, however, there are extenuating circumstances.

For one, the Sabres are floundering and it’s apparent they either had no intention of re-signing Vanek (a pending UFA next summer) or they didn’t believe he would re-sign.  Another is the Islanders, hoping to build upon last season’s playoff appearance, envision Vanek meshing with superstar center John Tavares.  The Islanders are also among the few clubs who could afford to take on Vanek’s $7.142 million cap hit ($6.4 million in real salary).

It’s a gamble on the part of Isles GM Garth Snow, hoping Vanek will enjoy playing for a rising team that he’ll re-sign with them after this season, especially since conventional wisdom suggests he’ll sign with the Minnesota Wild next summer.  Still, if it works out, it’ll be to the Islanders benefit, though Vanek won’t help them improve their defensive game, which is what really needs the most attention.

As for the Sabres, everyone knew this was a rebuilding season for them, and given how poorly they’ve started, it only justifies making this move now. It remains to be seen, however, if the return will be worthwhile.

Matt Moulson

Matt Moulson

Moulson is a proven 30-goal scorer, but like Vanek he’s also slated for UFA status next summer, so the Sabres will have to engage in one helluva sell job to re-sign him.

His critics also believe his scoring prowess was due to playing on Tavares’ wing. This is his opportunity to prove his doubters wrong. If he posts up solid offensive numbers on a lousy team with no superstar forwards, it’ll not only silence his critics but bolster his value if he tests next summer’s free agent market.  

Moulson, however, could only be a short-term pickup anyway, as it’s the first and second round picks which are key to the Sabres future. Regardless of how well Moulson plays this season, don’t expect him to turn around the Sabres sagging fortunes.


  1. islanders gave up too much. i could see moulson and a second, even moulson and a first, but a first and a second is too much.

    • Be happy the Islanders did not part with Tavares or Grabner. I would have initially traded Vanek for Tavares one-for-one, solidify my centers and work on improving depth on left wing. Grabner would have upgraded right wing.

  2. This is a signal to the coaches of both teams – improve or see you later. I could visualize coaching changes for the Sabres and the Islanders if this trade doesn’t pick both teams up. Amazingly early for this big a move.

  3. Huge gamble for NYI Unless they can resign Vanek.

  4. the biggest loser in this trade? Cody Hodgson, all of a sudden he’s lost his meal ticket in exchange for a guy Tavares used to bounce pucks off of for goals. i realize there were draft picks involved as well but the Islanders won’t be a lottery team anyways and who’s to say Vanek won’t prefer New York to Minnesota, they should’ve beat the Penguins in the playoffs last year. everyone assumes Vanek is heading to Minnesota but they don’t need another big money forward, they need defense in a bad way.

  5. To be trading such significant assets, you’d think the next headline would be “Vanek agrees to 5 year extension with Isles”. Snow really dropped the ball here. He’s barely improved the team and given up very valuable assets. For the Isles to really improve they needed both Moulson and Vanek on the roster.
    I’m glad Snow’s not my GM.

  6. Two 29 year old, perennial 30 goal, pending UFAs, with 9 points on the season are swapped.

    Regier scores a first and a second on top…

    Buffalo wins this deal, hands down.

    • Great way to look at it. I do agree.

  7. A Steal for Buffalo. They get a first round pick from a bubble team, a second round pick, plus a player they will deal at the deal line for a solid return also.

  8. I’m really torn on this deal.

    On one hand, I kinda buy into the Moulson is a offensive all-star because of Tavares and Vanek could certainly be a lethal combo even if it isn’t addressing their defense. However if Vanek bolts, this will suck for the Isles. Worst comes to worse for the Sabres they trade Moulson and get more assets? It is a good deal regardless for the Sabres and could turn into a gold mine for the Islanders… if Vanek signs and they can somehow address their defense and find goaltending next season.

  9. Win for the Sabres. Too bad for Moulson though. He’s going to miss out on the playoffs for certain this year. I think the Islanders could of made a better move without giving up so much? But me thinks Garth Snow is not a bright man 😉

  10. Another great trade by Darcy Regier. The guy comes up with one great trade after another. The draft picks insure that Buffalo wins this deal, regardless of whether or not the players resign. Moulson will be dealt for more picks if he doesn’t click with the team.

    It’s a win for Buffalo either way. Darcy gets full marks!

    • Also add the fact that the Sabres can turn Moulson around for probably a second or third at least come deadline time if they decide to go full boat rebuild, if he shows he can score without Tavares.

  11. If you really think Moulson is better than Vanek you should watch La Crosse or Golf.
    Snow would never have made the deal w/o any hint from Vaneks camp that he´d be interested in signing an extension with the Isles

  12. I see a possible reality where Vanek resigns elsewhere as free agent and Moulson does crummy in Buffalo showing he was a product of Tavares. I could then see Moulson resigning with NYI as a free agent to be reunited with his a buddy at more reasonable cost.

  13. Weird trade. Regier may have just saved his job. He will get more assets flipping Moulson. The way it looks Snow will attempt to re sign Vanek. if he can’t then he deals him again at the deadline to recoup his assets. I see Moulson going to free agency and if Vanek doesn’t sign with the Isles he will return.