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.
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.