Earlier the Islanders traded Matt Moulson, a first round this year and a second round pick next year for Buffalo Sabres winger Thomas Vanek. Fans are in up-roar moaning about giving up fan favorite Matt Moulson and two picks, some are saying the Islanders got “fleeced”. Before any opinion is made lets try and breakdown the trade very logically.
Before getting down into the actual moving parts of the trade lets just breakdown the players.
Matt Moulson is soon to be 30 years old and an unrestricted free agent. Knowing the GMs in the NHL and similar players, it is very conceivable Moulson could get around 6 million dollars per year in the free agent market. Matt Moulson has played 99% of his ice time with John Tavares since joining the Islanders. He was a no show while playing with Tavares in the playoffs, which forced a line change to remove him from that line. Earlier in this season Moulson was not playing well with Tavares in 5v5 situations, which again forced Head Coach Jack Capuano remove Moulson from that line. Most of the damage Moulson has done this year as been on the power-play, where he has 5 of his 6 goals and 2 of his 3 assists. In other words he is not making plays when the situation is even strength. Moulson is also not known for his skating ability, puck handling ability or his defense. He is essentially a one-dimensional player that doesn’t fit the Islanders current play style.
Thomas Vanek is also a soon to be 30 year old unrestricted free agent. He too is a player that could command around the 6-7 million dollar per year mark in the open market. He too has tallied 9 points on the season. He has 4 goals and 5 assists playing for the inferior Buffalo Sabres. However only 4 of his points have been on the power play and only on of those points are a goal. Vanek is 6-2 220 pound, skilled skater, defender, puck handler the Islanders needed to put with Tavares. Scored 20 goals every year he has played in the NHL and was on pace for 40 goals last year in the shortened season. In short Vanek is the far superior player.
Now to the part everyone seems to be moaning about. The traded of draft picks. The Islanders traded a first and second round pick along with Moulson to get Vanek. Here is a question, would you rather trade prospects instead of the draft picks. Would you rather trade players closer to competing at the NHL level, say a player like de Hann? Or even a player who is currently on the team like a Matt Donovan? The draft picks were the best things the Islanders could have given up. They are unknown players who won’t even begin to contribute to this team for several years. They will also be road blocked by the core of Islanders already locked up, plus the likes of Andres Lee, Brock Nelson, Ryan Strome, Griffin Reinhardt and Ryan Poulock.
The Islanders traded more than fair vaule for Thomas Vanek. Last year Jerome Iginla was traded for a 1st round pick and two prospects for LESS games than the Islanders will have Vanek for. The most important piece of the trade is that the Islanders now have the inside track to give Vanek an extension. Vanek will have 70 games or so to see if he truly likes playing with Tavares and the rest of the Islanders crew. If Vanek does choose to re-up with the Islanders, it is no brainer that the Islanders won the trade. The only possibly scenario in which the Islanders lose the trade is if they fail to make the playoffs AND Vanek does not re-up with the Islanders. This was a good trade for the Islanders and it brings them one step closer to making that deep playoff run.