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What’s Garth Snow thinking?

Oct 28, 2013, 11:14 AM EDT

Garth Snow Getty Images

What is Garth Snow thinking? That’s what a lot of people are still wondering after the Islanders’ general manager traded winger Matt Moulson, a first-round draft pick in 2014 and a 2015 second-round pick for Thomas Vanek, a 29-year-old sniper with an expiring contract who most assumed would be signing with Minnesota this summer.

“We had opportunity to acquire an elite player and given where we we are right now, you go for it.” Snow said.

“Thomas is an elite player in this league and he’ll help us now and in the future.”

Here are three more things he’s probably thinking:

1. I can sell Vanek on the Isles. We’re moving to Brooklyn soon, and that’s a pretty cool place to live, right? We’ll have a new rink with more ways to make money, and that means we’ll have more to spend on building a winner going forward. Not to mention, he’ll get to play with John Tavares, one of the best young centers in the NHL. All in all, I think that’s a pretty attractive proposal. And if that’s not good enough, I can do something Minnesota can’t — give Vanek eight years, one more than the Wild, or any other team, could. Remember that I’ve sold guys on this team before, like Evgeni Nabokov and Lubomir Visnovsky. They didn’t want to be here at first. I can do this again.

2. At the moment, this is the only way we can get top free agents. I need to get in their ear first, before the usual suspects like Philadelphia and Detroit do. I need to give myself an advantage. To make the first move. To be aggressive. Otherwise I’ve got no chance.

3. I can still trade him before the deadline. March 5 is a long way away. If we can’t get an extension done by then, I should still be able to get a first-round pick back. Maybe more. It won’t look great, but hopefully our fans will appreciate the willingness to take a risk and understand why we rolled the dice. We want to win. We’re ready to win. Which is hopefully what Vanek can see.

  1. pitpenguinsrulez - Oct 28, 2013 at 11:20 AM

    4. We still don’t have a top goalie!?

    That should be his top priority instead if the Isles expect to go deep and contend with Pittsburgh. If neither player resigns on either team then the only winner would be Buffalo since they got two good draft picks

    • gettingpwned - Oct 28, 2013 at 11:24 AM

      i hate to tell you, but they contended with pitt last year. the pens were a BS penalty in game 3 from going home down 3-1 in the series. dont say they cant contend with pitt. pitt’s D and goalie issues arent much better than the isles. isles DID beat them this past week after all.

    • hockey412 - Oct 28, 2013 at 11:24 AM

      They just contended with the Pens and won.

      • gettingpwned - Oct 28, 2013 at 11:26 AM

        isles also had 4 less PPs than the pens that game. and killed off all of the pens PPs.

      • hockey412 - Oct 28, 2013 at 11:32 AM

        Thanks for that reminder, ya bastard.

        Just kidding – they are an impressive young team, no doubt. Risky, but could be a good move, if they don’t get caught without an extension.

    • cantphaseme - Oct 28, 2013 at 11:39 AM

      Sabres win either way. They will trade Moulson for more picks. Isle got raped in this one.

    • jl9830 - Oct 28, 2013 at 12:32 PM

      Didn’t they just beat Pittsburgh the other night? They also outplayed the Penguins in 4 of the 6 playoff games last Spring. Don’t hold your head so high there, bud.

  2. hockey412 - Oct 28, 2013 at 11:23 AM

    I agree completely with that list, especially #3. They at least have enough time to figure out if they are going to be able to come to terms with him. If they can’t do it by the deadline they HAVE to get something back.

    • jl9830 - Oct 28, 2013 at 12:35 PM

      Not if they’re in a clear playoff position looking to make a run, which is what the plan should be. Now that they’ve traded their 2014 first rounder, they’ve essentially gone in big on this season. They should be finding a way to get a goalie and a 2nd or 3rd pairing defenseman now and really go for it.

      • hockey412 - Oct 28, 2013 at 1:14 PM

        Go for it for one year, and disrupt the ability to continually “make a run”? After making it to the playoffs for the first time since 06/07, and after a lengthy rebuild? I just disagree. They’d have been better off keeping Moulson if that were the case (no extension for Vanek). Would the same be true for a goalie then? Trade another first and a roster player for a one-year goalie rental? Nah, appreciate the idea, but they are still building the “core”, not going after a rental for an all-in run.

      • jl9830 - Oct 28, 2013 at 1:36 PM

        It may not have been what I’d have done, but they traded their 2014 first rounder, which is a tacit admission that they’re going for it, at least to some degree, this season. That means they’d better improve the goaltending and defense too, but it also means they’re likely not trading Vanek at the deadline.

  3. purpleguy - Oct 28, 2013 at 11:26 AM

    Snow is collecting Minnesota Gophers. He’ll have to pay Vanek quite a bit to keep him out of MN where he lives, trains, went to school and has a ton of friends in town and on the Wild.

    • guitarhunterdude - Oct 28, 2013 at 11:49 AM

      As a Wild fan, the last thing I want is a bidding war. We need cap space to sign Brodin, Granlund, Coyle, and Niederreiter to new contracts in the next couple years. We can’t handle another long-term, 6+ million-a-year contract, even with Heatley coming off the books. And you’re deluding yourself if you think he’ll take some sort of “hometown” discount. I wouldn’t mind Vanek on a deal similar to Pominville’s, but there’s no way he goes for that cheap, especially coming off of what should be a great season alongside Tavares.

      • purpleguy - Oct 28, 2013 at 1:37 PM

        Russo from the Strib is already alluding to that very prospect. On the hometown discount thing, Vanek has already made a ton of dough, and with the low cap, I doubt there will be a big bidding war. If the Wild youngsters prove they can score, Fletcher won’t overpay to get Vanek.

    • davebabychreturns - Oct 28, 2013 at 12:28 PM

      Collecting Gophers, eh? You want Schroeder? We’ll take any non-Gopher who can play center at the NHL level without getting injured.

      If Snow starts taking an interest in former Michigan State Spartans, we may just have one of those available as well.

    • jl9830 - Oct 28, 2013 at 12:36 PM

      This whole Vanek-Minnesota thing is a lot of circumstantial evidence. It seems to be fan-made gossip, frankly. You’re ignoring that Minnesota already has three guys making at least $6.5M per year (two of those guys making a decent amount more than $6.5M), and they’re going to need money to lock up the rest of the team.

      • purpleguy - Oct 28, 2013 at 1:40 PM

        Don’t know if they’ll sign him, but it’s not primarily a fan made rumor, as the reports have come from quite a few hockey insiders.

      • jl9830 - Oct 28, 2013 at 2:33 PM

        Purpleguy- that’s still gossip and speculation. Logically, it doesn’t make much sense.

    • canadiansportsfan77 - Oct 28, 2013 at 1:54 PM

      It’s been tough to attract FA’s to NYI, but once they come they enjoy it so much they don’t want to leave…take in for example Nabby and Viz. Don’t be so sure he’s going to Minn. A successful year and he could want to stay in NYI, playing with Tavares can do that for ya.

    • macjacmccoy - Oct 28, 2013 at 2:35 PM

      Yea its kind of like Bobby Ryan with Philly. It doesnt matter that you went out and traded for him. Your going to have to come up with something pretty significant to keep him from going to where everyone knows he wants to go once he hits free agency.

  4. enollatsknarf - Oct 28, 2013 at 11:35 AM

    Mr. Snow has a curious way of shaking up his roster. This trade would have favored Buffalo even without the two draft picks.

    Too bad he can’t use over-sized shoulder pads can’t to make himself a better GM….

    • cantphaseme - Oct 28, 2013 at 11:50 AM

      How can you say a trade for Vanek and Moulson straight up would have been fair? Vanek is a proven goal scorer with zero help. Moulson is a proven goal scorer with JT and an otherwise unproven goal scorer without help. Either way Moulson gets flipped for more draft picks, Miller gets traded for more draft picks. Sabres potentially have 3 first round draft picks….

      • guitarhunterdude - Oct 28, 2013 at 11:53 AM

        They have something like 17 in the top two rounds over the next five years. If they had a competent scouting department and a different GM, I’d say their future was looking bright.

  5. pitpenguinsrulez - Oct 28, 2013 at 12:01 PM

    Ya they contended with us but don’t forget that we chased Nabby out of net twice. That BS penalty is still not a good excuse…if they were the better team then would’ve killed it off but instead they didn’t. Did they shut Crosby and Malkin down in that series? Nope. The Isles played there best games on their ice. Sure they won Game 2 but that because the Niskanen and Okposo fight changed the whole momentum in it.

    • jl9830 - Oct 28, 2013 at 1:25 PM

      You’re a pretty frequent commenter here; how long is it going to take for you figure out the REPLY button? Random comments down here from conversations all the way at the top are really annoying. And it’s not like you’re new here, which begs the question about the reply button. Please use it!

      And just stop with this. The Islanders are already contending with the Penguins. Deflate the ego a little.

      • pitpenguinsrulez - Oct 28, 2013 at 3:03 PM

        Ok for starters I mostly use the mobile app on my phone and it took me so long to reply back as I was in my business calc class and that i met up with a friend for lunch before work. I’m not denying that the Isles arent contending with the Pens, if you look at one of the artilces from last night I said that the Isles are the Pens biggest threat to the division this year. What I also said is that if the Isles are expecting to go deep in the playoffs, they need to find a better goalie cause Nabby can be broken which is what happened last season to him vs Pittsburgh.

    • hockeydon10 - Oct 28, 2013 at 1:27 PM

      You sound like a sore winner.

      That guy didn’t say the Isles beat the Pens in that series. He said the contended.

      (For the definition of “contended”, go ahead and use the power of the internet to your advantage.)

    • hockey412 - Oct 28, 2013 at 1:30 PM

      Love the fan loyalty but the best way to judge how the team is put together this year it to look at how they compared this year. So far this year NYI > Pens. Hurts to say, but true.

      • jl9830 - Oct 28, 2013 at 2:34 PM

        Actually, the Penguins have been better than the Islanders this season, the Isles win over the Pens notwithstanding. They’ve been better overall by a bit.

  6. jl9830 - Oct 28, 2013 at 12:31 PM

    “I’ve sold guys on this team before, like Evgeni Nabokov and Lubomir Visnovsky. They didn’t want to be here at first. I can do this again.”

    Why are we assuming the Isles have any selling to do? And what evidence is there that Vanek “doesn’t want to be here?” All indications are that he’s excited about joining the Islanders.

  7. multiplemiggs - Oct 28, 2013 at 12:38 PM

    Why is it that everyone is “expected” to sign with Minnesota? Who they hell are they? Everyone else is garbage?

    • guitarhunterdude - Oct 28, 2013 at 12:49 PM

      They’ve got an owner who’s very willing to open up his checkbook, and they’ve signed some big names lately. Vanek in particular is expected to go to Minnesota because his family lives here, he has several friends who play on the Wild, and he played college hockey here.

    • purpleguy - Oct 28, 2013 at 1:43 PM

      First, there a re a lot of Minnesotans in the NHL that either look to come home or are rumored to come home. And second, the only “everyone’s” I’ve heard of are Suter, Parise and Vanek, and 2 out of those 3 did sign in MN.

  8. chiadam - Oct 28, 2013 at 12:47 PM

    5. This hangover is killing me. Has anyone seen my pants? No? It’s OK. How did I get in the zoo? And why do you keep asking me about Vanek? He’s not even an Oiler. Wait…what??

    • mp1131211 - Oct 28, 2013 at 11:18 PM

      Classic. Thanks…

  9. mattymarts17 - Oct 28, 2013 at 12:57 PM

    This article did ease my concerns a bit. If Vanek shows no indication he’s going to stay at the deadline and we can get a first for him Moulson and a 2nd doesn’t seem so bad. Gotta hope that by NOT trading any of our prospects Snow will move some for a goalie. Nabby won’t be able to hold down an entire season without some help and I’m not sold on Poulin just yet.

  10. kdickson53 - Oct 28, 2013 at 5:15 PM

    Wow, if the Sabres can get this for Vanek, I wonder what the Flyers could get for Tye McGinn!!!!!

    • bullwinkle88 - Oct 29, 2013 at 12:55 PM

      One big difference – the Flyers don’t have Darcy Regier pulling the trigger on their trades. They have Darcy’s opposite.

  11. hosewater2 - Oct 28, 2013 at 5:47 PM

    Moulson may very well come back and sign with NYI in the offseason.

    Vanek is gonna get ridiculous term and money. He will be worth the money for 2-3 of those years, after that….I doubt it given his career arc.

    • bullwinkle88 - Oct 29, 2013 at 12:57 PM

      On the other hand, Moulson may stay in Buffalo. Most players who come here love the city and stay during the off season. It’s great for raising a family and that’s where Moulson is at now in his life.

  12. bcisleman - Oct 28, 2013 at 11:20 PM

    All three othe ideas are possibly part of Garth’s thinking. his maklot of the Ryan Smyth although the Isles are in a very different position. Garth has an element of the high stakes poker player in him.

    If e a big run at the cup, Vanek may stay. Otherwise, they may be able to get Moulson back this summer.

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