The Buffalo Sabres are rebuilding, and I presume their plan isn't to build around guys who get suspended. Two of their key players, Thomas Vanek and Ryan Miller, are in the last years of their deals, and extensions were not givens, and not even likely frankly. As such, both players have been considered as trade bait. Well, one of them has been dealt, and the team he is going to is somewhat surprising. Vanek has been traded to the New York Islanders.
For Vanek, the Sabres receive Matt Moulson, a first-round pick in 2014, and a second-round pick in 2015. This is kind of an interesting deal, and not just because the Islanders actually made a big move. Both Vanek and Moulson are 29-year-old forwards, and both are in the last year of their contracts. Both are also goal scorers, but Vanek is slightly better.
Vanek has been a dynamic forward since he came into the league, and he has two 40 goal seasons to his credit. Moulson got off to a bit of a slower start to his career, but then put together three 30 goal seasons in a row. In a vacuum, you obviously want to have Vanek of these two, especially since there is less concern about him being reliant on talents such as John Tavares. He's been the best forward on Buffalo more often than not. Now, he and Tavares get to work together. At least for the rest of this season.
I wonder if the Sabres intend to try and re-sign Moulson. I mean, they are rebuilding, and are probably a few years away from contending, but Moulson still likely has a few years left in him. Plus, he will likely be cheaper than Vanek, and more likely to re-sign. However, even if he doesn't, they get a little bit out of his this year, which doesn't really matter in a rebuild year, and, more importantly, two draft picks. For a guy who was not going to return, that's not a bad return at all.
As for the Islanders side of this, they've added the best player in this trade. New York made the playoffs last year after years of rebuilding, and this move seems to indicate they want to take the next step this year. However, they didn't make a big improvement, since Moulson is a good player. Still, Vanek can really scores goals, and I like them making the gamble, especially if they intend to re-sign him. The Islanders definitely will have the cap space, but they are also the New York Islanders, Kings of the Salary Floor.
This is a big trade at an unusually early portion of the season. Vanek is gone from Buffalo. Can Miller be far behind?