Earlier, I wrote about the most notable trade of Wednesday, Martin St. Louis for Ryan Callahan. However, there were many, many trades on Wednesday. I'll get to some of the smaller, but still notable, deals later. For now, I want to focus on the three significant forwards that got dealt.
In case you are not aware of whom I speak, the players in question are Marian Gaborik, Matt Moulson, and Thomas Vanek. I will start with Vanek, as he is, in my opinion, the best of the three. Earlier this year, the New York Islanders got him from Buffalo, and paid a pretty penny to do so. The team was hoping to make the playoffs. Alas, Vanek does not play goalie, the team is going nowhere, and the Islanders did not expect the pending free agent to re-sign. So, they have sent him to Montreal for prospect Sebastian Collberg and a condition 2014 second-round pick. Apparently, the Habs only have to send the pick if they make the playoffs. I think they will, but that really would change things if they do not.
There is a couple of ways to look at this. First, I'll get to Montreal because it is swift and easy. I like it. They got a really good offensive player for a small price, even if they make the playoffs. Vanek has 21 goals and 53 points this season. For the Islanders, this is more complex. Collberg seems to be a decent enough prospect. He's a 20-year-old Swedish guy who has played for Sweden at the juniors level nationally. If you consider what they paid for Vanek, what they got for Vanek, and the value Vanek brought them, they probably broke even. The issue, of course, is that the value Vanek brought did not get them over any sort of hump. So was it really worth it? Maybe not.
One of the pieces in that Vanek trade? Moulson, who went to Buffalo, but is now on his way to Minnesota. Along with Cody McCormick, he went to the Wild for Torrey Mitchell, a 2014 second-rounder, and a 2016 second-rounder. McCormick and Mitchell are sort of just fodder to me. This is really Moulson for a couple of second rounders.
This is reasonable for Minnesota, Moulson is a free agent after the year, but he's a good player, and the Wild seem very likely to make the playoffs. They can afford to give up a couple second rounders in hope of making some noise. I mean, they've spent huge on guys like Ryan Suter and Zach Parise. That's some win now stuff. I like this even more for Buffalo. The Sabres are collecting assets. They got some stuff for Vanek, and they turned one of those pieces into a couple of pretty high picks. They are bottoming out. They have started a rebuild. Buffalo fans just need to hope that Tim Murray is the man for the job.
Speaking of which, recently, Pat LaFontaine stepped down from his position with the team, even though he took that job earlier this year. The scuttlebutt I heard said it was because he was not happy with the Ryan Miller deal. If that's true, the Sabres are better off without him. That was a deal that had to happen. If LaFontaine couldn't abide that, he had no value to this franchise. Sometime great players make lousy front office guys.
Lastly, there's Gaborik, who, admittedly, may be beyond his glory days. He hasn't stayed healthy, and he hasn't helped the Blue Jackets much. He only has six goals and 14 points in 22 games. On the other hand, in his prime he was great, and maybe he can become something resembling that great goal scorer he once was. That's what the Kings are hoping for. Los Angeles loves dealing with Columbus, apparently. Jeff Carter worked out great, and they will hope Gaborik can provide the same value.
In the deal, the Jackets got Matt Frattin, who was part of the Jonathan Bernier deal (he's a decent depth guy) and a second and third round pick, both of which can be given up in either 2014 or 2015. Columbus is vying for the playoffs, and Gaborik would help that more than Frattin. However, they've gotten this far pretty much without Gaborik. They can deal. Meanwhile, the Kings are definitely going to the playoffs. They've had scoring issues though. Gaborik can help that. He'll have better teammates around him. It was well worth the gamble for the Kings.