Hockey trades are rare in today’s NHL, but that didn’t stop the New York Islanders and Buffalo Sabres from swapping scoring wingers Sunday night. In the midst of a massive rebuild, the Sabres acquired Matt Moulson, a 1st round draft pick in 2014, and a 2nd round pick in 2015 from the Isles in exchange for sniper Thomas Vanek.
Vanek joins an Islanders team that is on the rise, nearing the end of a lengthy rebuilding process. With 254 career goals to his stat line, Vanek is a proven scoring threat in the National Hockey League. He will likely replace Moulson on the top line with last season’s Hart trophy nominee, John Tavares.
Moulson has become a scorer in the NHL, as well. Over the last four seasons, he has scored 30-plus, excluding the lockout season. He has recorded 6 goals through 11 games this season, and is well on his way toward another great offensive year.
The Sabres have stockpiled a ton of young assets over the last few seasons. At the 2013 trade deadline they moved captain Jason Pominville to the Minnesota Wild for a plethora of exciting prospects and high picks. The Vanek move only further stocks the arsenal if Sabres’ GM Darcy Regier can make the most of his newly acquired draft picks.
There is also speculation via Toronto sports radio suggesting the Sabres may flip Moulson for more young assets as this season’s trade deadline draws closer.
Moulson and Vanek are both set to become unrestricted free agents on July 1st, 2014. Unless each is signed before that date, they both enjoy the luxury of testing the free agent market where they can decide which city they want to play in. Rumours have circulated recently proposing Vanek to Minnesota is a good fit because his wife is from the Twin Cities, and he trains there in the offseason. As for Moulson, his future is unclear.