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Isles grab Vanek, Sabres get Moulson in blockbuster trade

Oct 27, 2013, 8:40 PM EDT

vanekisles Getty Images

The NHL has its first blockbuster trade of the 2013-14 season, as the New York Islanders sent winger Matt Moulson and two high draft picks (a 2014 first-rounder and a second-round pick in 2015) to the Buffalo Sabres for sniper Thomas Vanek.

Both forwards are on expiring contracts, so any number of possibilities bubble up – from contract extensions to each team losing them after the remainder of this campaign.

Each player is 29 years old and both have registered nine points so far in 2013-14 (Moulson’s done it in 11 while Vanek’s collected those in 13).

The two forwards specialize in scoring, particularly finding the net.

Vanek has 254 tallies in his career, including two 40+ goal seasons and two other 30+ goal campaigns. Moulson went from an AHL/NHL tweener to John Tavares‘ partner-in-crime, tallying three 30+ goal seasons in Long Island.

It’s hard to deny that this might be something of a statement move by Islanders GM Garth Snow, as few would doubt that Moulson’s one of the league’s most unappreciated snipers. Vanek, on the other hand, was well-known for being one of the few remaining bright spots in Buffalo.

Say what you will about Sabres GM Darcy Regier’s work, but he’s now traded Vanek and Jason Pominville for huge returns the last two seasons. Those are two quality draft picks in an exchange for strong players with expiring contracts.

  1. jacketsfan7 - Oct 27, 2013 at 8:46 PM

    Wow , I am shocked

    • dhawks19 - Oct 27, 2013 at 10:07 PM

      No one is more shocked than Matt Moulson

      • kaptaanamerica - Oct 28, 2013 at 3:03 AM

        So Garth Snow is making bold moves and Edmonton continues to look like they want to collect high draft picks… the islanders are making serious moves and Vanek is greater than Moulson. Playing with an all-star and one of the best players in the league will be a huge step up for Vanek. Hodgson isn’t even in the same conversation as Tavares.

        I’m sure like all the other players who go to long island Vanek will sign again. Who knows Moulson might sign there again in the off season as well…. the draft picks may out may not be that great… I’m glad the isles are making a bid to get better and hopefully get to the level they were in the eighties…

    • fantasyhockeyguru - Oct 28, 2013 at 10:58 AM

      @kaptaanamerica All players who go to LI do not re-sign. The most recent 2 who did, are on the ends of their career and knew they wouldn’t get such offers from elsewhere. I am hopefuly he will stay with the Isles, but I doubt it. He has a strong voice saying he’s wanted to land in Minny after this year, and I still see that happening, unless the Isles pull off another great season and do better than last year, with Vanek’s numbers being incredible.

      This was giving up WAY too much for a possible rental, as well as not addressing a single need the team has. Another bad move by Snow. Even if he pans out and re-signs, we NEED goaltending and defensemen

  2. lowenni - Oct 27, 2013 at 8:46 PM

    WOW. That seems like a quality deal for both teams. Sabres will lose a bit of scoring but still get a quality player in Moulson (should be interesting to see how he plays next to someone like Cody Hogdson instead of Tavares). The first and second round picks balance it out, I’d say. Meanwhile the Isles get an elite offensive talent and someone who could potentially absolutely flourish next to Tavares. As O’Brien said, it’s a serious statement move by Garth Snow, and shows that the Isles might not just be settling on just the playoffs for now on. While the Isles certainly weren’t the team I was expecting Vanek to get traded to, this is really exciting news.

    And I’m sure Buffalo fans are getting real excited for that #1 draft pick this year….

    • westinpat - Oct 27, 2013 at 8:53 PM

      I’m sure it will look great next to the top three pick they are playing for.

    • c9castine - Oct 27, 2013 at 9:48 PM

      let me break this down real simple like.

      islanders and sabres swapped basically the same player. a solid producing goal scoring left wing. they have produced basically the same for the past few years. the sabres cut salary, and gained two high draft picks in successive years. the islanders gained salary and gave up two high draft picks in successive years.

      i don’t see how the islanders win this at all its a clear win for the sabres. the islanders aren’t good enough or deep enough to be giving up draft picks for nothing. vanek isn’t going to turn into stamkos overnight. he’s a 35 goal 70-75 point player and thats that. don’t care if he’s playing with tavares or not.

      • esracerx46 - Oct 27, 2013 at 10:02 PM

        Total win for Buffalo. The Islanders on the other hand, I have no idea what they’re thinking. I seriously thought I was missing something, but apparently I was mistaken. I’m not trying to knock Vanek. But like you said, Vanek and Moulson are essentially the same player as far as point production. Garth Snow being Garth Snow?

      • lowenni - Oct 27, 2013 at 10:08 PM

        Fair enough. Here is my logic, however:

        Vanek was a point-per-game player last year on one of the weakest teams in the NHL. He is a former 40 goal scorer. He is a former 70 point scorer.

        Matt Moulson is a great player, but his career high is 69 points while playing with John Tavares. Vanek has never played with a player of Tavares’ caliber in his life. Vanek may be a “35 goal, 70-75 point” player in Buffalo, but next to Tavares on the Island he becomes a 40-45, 90-95 point player, and Tavares potentially becomes a 100+ point player. Moulson becomes a 50-point player and won’t ever produce like he did next to Tavares. Yes, the Isles gave up a lot to get Vanek. But by absolutely no means are Vanek and Moulson the same player.

      • bcisleman - Oct 27, 2013 at 10:27 PM

        Isles have a TON of depth in their system. This deal will turn on how the Isles finish and how valuable their picks are and whether Vanek turns it up a notch playing w/ JT.

      • bcisleman - Oct 27, 2013 at 10:30 PM

        Garth Snow being Garth Snow? Not sure WHAT that means but Snow was the guy who signed Matty after he’d been cast off by two teams after which he became a solid 60+ point guy.

      • tdrusher225 - Oct 27, 2013 at 10:57 PM

        Moulson and Vanek are not the same player. Vanek has been one of the league’s biggest goal-scoring and game-changing threats while never playing with anyone of Tavares’s caliber. Moulson is a quality player, but he is essentially a slightly more skilled Chris Kunitz. A very good player who benefited from skating next to and developing chemistry with one of the best players in the world. I would still contest that it was a win for Buffalo, but to me there’s no doubt the best player in this trade is going to the Islanders.

      • c9castine - Oct 27, 2013 at 10:58 PM

        in addition the isles were guaranteed to be able to resign moulson but not vanek. the isles are good but they may fall short of what vanek wants he may get a deal from a perennial contender in the off season.

      • esracerx46 - Oct 28, 2013 at 1:53 AM

        @ BCISLEMAN

        Garth Snow….the guy who offered up his entire draft to move up from the 4th overall pick, to the 2nd over all pick to get Ryan Murray. The guy that signed Rick DiPietro to a 15 year contract. To draft Calvin De Haan at 12 (a reach in itself) The Isle’s traded Chris Campoli, 37th, 62nd,82nd,and 92nd pick. While he isn’t the worst GM, he has a tendency to do some dumb things. But not nearly as dumb as Milbury.

      • deitypete - Oct 28, 2013 at 11:22 AM

        Let me lighten your burden friend if you’ll entertain me for a moment. Ive been watchin the sabres and islanders religiously for the past few years. I can assure you, mr. Vanek is a different class of player than matt moulson. His, hand eye and vision are amongst the best in the league and he had a ridiculous shot to boot. He had a tumultuous ride with the coach in buffalo; at times publicly expressed his distaste for the communication skills of lindy ruff. He was drafted 5th overall and with good reason. Moulson is a journey man with substantial hockey wisdom, good speed and a nice shot. hes a good story who benefited from
        Playing with high end talent. Snow knows it.. And he also knows talent like vanek doesnt pop up very often outside of free agency (especially for a team like the isles) where demand and hype distort reality and washed up players get big money and drain cap. See brad richards scott
        Gomez etc.. Nothing is certain as per life, but id say theres a favorable chance isles fans will enjoy their recent acquisition , even you… Just
        Give it time!

  3. killerpgh - Oct 27, 2013 at 8:47 PM

    Garth gave up a lot. If he can resign Vanek it will probably be worth it. But its a big gamble and won’t be able to fully judge this trade until Vanek resigns or signs elsewhere.

    • esracerx46 - Oct 27, 2013 at 10:05 PM

      But they could have just as easily re-signed Moulson. To be honest, If the Islanders had waited, Vanek could have been had for a first and a second. And Moulson stays put.

      • bcisleman - Oct 27, 2013 at 10:32 PM

        He’d have cost MORE closer to the deadline.

      • esracerx46 - Oct 28, 2013 at 1:57 AM

        How do you figure? Thinking more teams are going to bid on him? Teams aren’t stupid. Playoff teams aren’t giving up talent close to the deadline. Prospects and picks is all they’re willing to give up. Teams aren’t giving up a lot for a player that might play 20 games. If he wasn’t a rental then yeah teams might pay more. But the Isles in this case overpaid.

    • bcisleman - Oct 27, 2013 at 10:34 PM

      If Garth sees he won’t be able to re-sign Vanek, he should have NO problem moving him for a good package before the deadline.

      • jl9830 - Oct 27, 2013 at 10:59 PM

        Lol this isn’t happening. They obviously got him to make a run this year.

      • jpelle82 - Oct 28, 2013 at 10:12 AM

        a good package that includes another 30 goal scorer, 1st round pick, 2nd round pick? you do realize thats what they just gave up right? not gonna happen at the deadline

      • deitypete - Oct 28, 2013 at 12:36 PM

        U obviously dont know darcy.

  4. ethanmacleod1685 - Oct 27, 2013 at 8:47 PM

    Woah !

  5. sjtorpitt - Oct 27, 2013 at 8:48 PM

    WOW. Talk about highway robbery…

  6. garryfish - Oct 27, 2013 at 8:48 PM

    Isles gave up too much!

  7. zetaone - Oct 27, 2013 at 8:48 PM

    WOW! Call a cop, Regier robbed Snow..

  8. egodz51 - Oct 27, 2013 at 8:49 PM

    I hate the Sabres more and more every day. Thanks for ruining a good thing Terry.

    • zetaone - Oct 27, 2013 at 8:53 PM

      You clearly don’t understand hockey if you think this is a bad deal for the Sabres lol..

  9. mattypbillsmafia - Oct 27, 2013 at 8:51 PM

    If you think Vanek is elite, you need to watch more of the sabres… He coasts more often than not, disappears in big situations and racks up points in garbage time. Good riddance! He’s a more well known Miro Satan. I’m hoping moulson wasn’t just a product of playing with JT, but I’m happy as hell that our “home captain” is gone, he’s a joke.

    • zetaone - Oct 27, 2013 at 8:55 PM

      FINALLY someone else who shares my opinion of him. Every other Sabres fan (not including myself) look at Vanek through rose tinted glasses and only see the points he accidentally scores.

      • bullwinkle88 - Oct 27, 2013 at 11:56 PM

        FINALLY two people who agree with my opinion!

        Vanek is a slacker who is very streaky in his play.

        Another trade win by Darcy!!!

    • westinpat - Oct 27, 2013 at 8:56 PM

      He was getting out skated by the Mites during the intermission games.

    • fantasyhockeyguru - Oct 28, 2013 at 11:02 AM

      I agree with your thoughts on Vanek as well, as an Isles fan. Moulson, however, was a large product of playing with JT. He’s still a great player, but he needs that compliment in a player. He does score a lot of gritty goals, and crashes the net to score many of them. Also, how is the Buf PP? I believe, and I may eb wrong, that all of Moulson’s 6 goals this year are on the PP with Tavares as primary assist more often than not

  10. stakex - Oct 27, 2013 at 8:53 PM

    Poor poor Moulson…

  11. bcisleman - Oct 27, 2013 at 8:54 PM

    Flabbergasted is a good word. Matty was maybe my favorite Islander and JT’s best bud. More than that, Vanek only has 14 more points than Matty starting 2009-10…so how on earth does Vanek rate a first and a second in addition to Matty? On a personal note, my Isles sweater has Matty’s name and number. Thanks a lot, Garth! Hope this works in the Isles’ favor but have my doubts.

    • imnotyourbuddyguy - Oct 27, 2013 at 9:01 PM

      Ready to admit Snow is a massive failure?

      • letsgopens8771 - Oct 27, 2013 at 9:05 PM

        I like how both GMs are taking abuse for this one. Isles fans, I totally understand your feelings. I mean, those two had tremendous chemistry and yes, Snow has made some questionable choices in the past. However, the sky is definitely NOT falling. You guys could still give many Eastern Conference teams a run for their money.

      • imnotyourbuddyguy - Oct 27, 2013 at 9:18 PM

        The sky isn’t falling, just stating a fact that Snow sucks and Wang just keeps on keeping on.

      • bcisleman - Oct 27, 2013 at 10:36 PM

        No. Snow was the guy who signed Matty and watched him become a star after two teams had given up on him. Remains to be seen how good or bad a deal this is.

      • imnotyourbuddyguy - Oct 27, 2013 at 11:41 PM

        1st and 2nd round pick for a lateral move, if it doesn’t result in a finals appearance, it was a bad one.

      • jl9830 - Oct 27, 2013 at 11:04 PM

        Hey, he did find Matt Moulson in the first place, so give him some credit before you throw him under the bus.

      • imnotyourbuddyguy - Oct 27, 2013 at 11:42 PM

        Even a blind squirrel occasionally finds a nut

    • broadstreetsbaddest88 - Oct 27, 2013 at 9:01 PM

      You don’t have to worry cause I don’t think there’s any way moulson is signin an extension with a team rebuilding so you’ll have him back this summer. I can see vanek signing an extension more then him considering the isles are only gettin better.

      • rycoem - Oct 27, 2013 at 9:18 PM

        Sabres will flip Moulson for more picks by the trade deadline – he’s not in their plans any more than the Sabres are in his…

      • broadstreetsbaddest88 - Oct 27, 2013 at 11:21 PM

        Wow that didn’t even cross my mind. If Darcy flips him at the deadline, which he’d be extremely dumb not, to then this could be a highway robbery. Maybe Darcy isn’t as dumb as he’s been lookin. He has been stackin first round picks lately like there goin outta style. This deal can’t be claimed a full winner til the summer but I’d say Darcy is winning it so far.

      • michlight95 - Oct 27, 2013 at 11:59 PM

        Trust me hes not coming back

      • fantasyhockeyguru - Oct 28, 2013 at 11:07 AM

        IF Sabres do not flip Moulson again, I doubt he comes back to LI afetrwards, even if Isles offered. He will harbor some ill feelings towards Snow and the Org for this…it would take some serious JT campaigning to make that happen..

  12. vgraziano - Oct 27, 2013 at 8:57 PM

    Isles make the playoffs for the first time in over eight years and you trade away the guy that shadows the face of the franchise and two draft picks to boot-smoooooooooth Garth…granted vanek is a talent but it sure looks like one step forward and two steps back

  13. mattypbillsmafia - Oct 27, 2013 at 8:58 PM

    I would’ve been ok with the sabres trading vanek for a case of Molson…

  14. shortsxit34 - Oct 27, 2013 at 8:58 PM

    Poor Moulson. He doesn’t deserve this.

    • barkar942 - Oct 27, 2013 at 9:54 PM

      Quick! Trade Molson to the Rangers for Kreider and Del Z before they lose any more value!

  15. letsgopens8771 - Oct 27, 2013 at 9:01 PM

    Wow. Never thought those rumors would come true. Snow gave up a lot. Was it worth it? Probably not. However, Vanek’s is a good player, and maybe Moulson is the boost the sucky Sabres needed. As a Penguins fan, I know that Moulson is a pain in the butt to play against, especially when he goes to the net and gets behind the defense. However, the Islanders are getting a very skilled player. The Vanek-Tavares-Okposo line will be lethal, I can guarantee you. Not to mention the powerplay. Say what you want about Vanek, he is still a very good hockey player. Sabres are just rebuilding (yes, Jay Feaster, I used the r-word), and are likely to get the best benefit long-term.

  16. mattyo99 - Oct 27, 2013 at 9:02 PM

    Great moves for both teams. Vanek ran his course in buffalo. And Moulson is getting better year by year, he has potential to score alot of goals, and the sabres got picks, great move. Tavares to Vanek!

  17. csilojohnson - Oct 27, 2013 at 9:16 PM

    Seems lopsided. Straight trade wouldve been better. Dont see Vanek as being much if any better then Moulson. Guess we will see now that he is separated from JT.

  18. earpaniac - Oct 27, 2013 at 9:23 PM

    Wow. That’s an awful lot to give up without an extension in place. Vanek is the bigger name, but their production has been almost identical the last few years. This isn’t going to look good if Vanek walks at the end of the year.

    • imnotyourbuddyguy - Oct 27, 2013 at 9:31 PM

      Snow will give into any and all of Vanek’s demands to save face, if there’s any left to save.

  19. jkaflagg - Oct 27, 2013 at 9:29 PM

    I think Moulsen will be okay without Tavares….reminds me of Charlie Simmer, who was a career minor leaguer until hooking up with Dionne & Taylor in LA, but was still a good player after his trade to Boston…..the draft picks look good for Buffalo….if they pick the right guys.

    • storminator16 - Oct 28, 2013 at 6:14 PM

      See, Parenteau, Pierre-Alexandre. Bang on. Moulson’s style of play will be effective without Tavares.

  20. barkar942 - Oct 27, 2013 at 9:57 PM

    Personally, Vanek was not the Saber I envisioned going to Long Island. Would have envisioned their other end of contract year prized free agent heading there.

  21. canucks30 - Oct 27, 2013 at 10:00 PM

    Both teams will miss the playoffs and both players will walk as UFA’s

  22. michaeljay17 - Oct 27, 2013 at 10:04 PM

    As an Islanders fan I look at it this way – Moulson as well as he worked with Taveras is probably as highly regarded as he is because if JT. Vanek he is putting up the same points as Moulson with no Taveras next to him. have to think he will be that much better with JT. he also has bonds with Grabner and probably Okposo

  23. 19to77 - Oct 27, 2013 at 10:10 PM

    Moulson’s not actually doomed by this. It means this year’s a wash for him, but he’s a UFA at the end – and when has a quality UFA ever stayed in Buffalo? He’ll have plenty of quality suitors – I wager he’ll be the top free agent available this summer, unless Vanek leaves too.

    For the Sabres, it’s a win because they got some picks out of Vanek before he left. For the Islanders, it’s a head-scratcher. Moulson’s produced as many points as Vanek in the last two seasons and has proven chemistry with Tavares, and costs less than half as much. I’m sure many Isles fans are skeptical of Vanek being so much better than Moulson that it’s worth a 1st and a 2nd. And if the Isles do poorly, and Vanek doesn’t resign? Then how does it look?

    Talk about high-risk, high-reward.

  24. hockeyflow33 - Oct 27, 2013 at 10:15 PM

    This makes no sense for the Islanders. Why are you giving up two 1st rounders for a similar asset who will be turning 30?

    • bcisleman - Oct 27, 2013 at 10:40 PM

      1st and a 2nd

      • hockeyflow33 - Oct 27, 2013 at 11:37 PM

        That’s what I get for trying to post during the Sox game, my mistake!

  25. nicknyhc - Oct 27, 2013 at 10:31 PM

    People think the Isles lost on this one?


    Vanek is a better player than Moulson, and hasn’t played on a talented team. Vanek and Tavares on the same line could be a nasty combination. That powerplay could be deadly too.

    I thought Snow was gonna make a move for Miller. The Islanders would be a legit cup contender with Miller in net.

    • broadstreetsbaddest88 - Oct 27, 2013 at 11:34 PM

      Yeah miller would of been the smarter trade for snow to make. Nabokov isn’t cutting it lately and he is not the goalie at his age that can get him through the playoffs. They would of made a big step by gettin miller. Not trading a sniper for another sniper that was half the price and had already built great chemistry with Jt. They shoulda moved one of there many good prospects or even okposo over moulson.

      • bullwinkle88 - Oct 28, 2013 at 12:00 AM

        I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop…Miller to the Islanders for Okposo and the 2nd draft pick from 2014 and a first from 2015.

      • broadstreetsbaddest88 - Oct 28, 2013 at 1:55 AM

        Yeah I’d take that trade. Your sabres are rackin them 1st and 2nd round picks up. I know it sucks watchin them right now but if Darcy plays this right and draft good he can prove his worth of staying during the rebuild. He’s done some dumb things in the past but I will give him credit on gettin some really good returns on these trades lately. Buffalo deserves a good team. It’s gonna take good bit of time but be worth it in the end with a stacked team down the road.

  26. jernster21 - Oct 27, 2013 at 11:49 PM

    Not to toot my own horn, but I said the Isles wouldn’t pony up the money to pay Moulson….but I didn’t think they’d ship him out either. Worst case scenerio, they both walk as UFA’s and Buffalo ends up fleecing the Isles in this trade because they get the draft picks regardless. This also seems like a pretty silly move. Line chemistry doesn’t grow on trees – clearly they had something good between Moulson and Tavares – just because Vanek is a good player doesn’t mean it’s automatically going to click. Until the Islanders get a legit goalie, it’s hard to consider them a consistent playoff team at this point, which is going to play into whether Vanek decides to stay in my opinion.

  27. bullwinkle88 - Oct 28, 2013 at 12:01 AM

    Darcy again shows why he’s one of the best traders in the business.

  28. suelo8 - Oct 28, 2013 at 12:42 AM

    My fellow “sufferers”, remember when the sabres used to make the playoffs? Raise your hand if you know the # of times Vanek was NOT injured for them!

  29. bradkaz96 - Oct 28, 2013 at 7:47 AM

    Just wait until Darcy pulls a 1st round pick for Matt Moulson at the deadline. Win or lose Darcy did what had to be done. At the end of the year the Sabres get nothing for Vanek leaving. So instead we now have 2 more picks and maybe another if they decide to peddle Moulson (who is also unrestricted at seasons end).

    Darcy doesn’t make a trade unless he wins in the deal.

  30. olhockeypop - Oct 28, 2013 at 1:15 PM

    Just a thought here. How interesting would the Islanders boards be if Vanek signs s back with the Sabres after the season . No I do not think it will happen ‘but it would shurley make for some interesting reading .LOL

  31. storminator16 - Oct 28, 2013 at 6:09 PM

    I seriously think many of you Isles fans are going to be bad mouthing Vanek after this season. Some of you are making him out to be a world beater. Your hopes will be dashed by seasons end. Sure, he will have that one big hot streak that will have you all praising the Hockey gods but he is that same guy who goes on prolonged streaks of ineffectiveness. ‘Ye have been warned.

    Some fans (not Islander fans) are making Moulson out to be a complete chump. That guy is a sniper but he gets the greasy goals, too. He’ll still produce with Hodgson, who is more of a playmaker than Tavares is.

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