Sunday, October 27, 2013

Islanders Deal Moulson and Picks for Sabres' Thomas Vanek

Impatient with a sluggish 4-4-3 start in which the New York Islanders failed to win back-to-back games, Isles' GM Garth Snow has pulled the trigger on a blockbuster deal that sends fan favorite winger Matt Moulson to Buffalo along with two high draft picks for two-time 40-goal scorer Thomas Vanek.

"I didn't like the way we'd been playing," Islanders general manager Garth Snow told Newsday's Arthur Staple on Sunday night. "We're better than our record indicates and we need to take the next step. Thomas is an elite player in this league and he'll help us now and in the future."

Vanek is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, so Snow will have to do some negotiating in order to ensure that the 29-year-old Austrian does indeed help beyond this season. Vanek currently makes over $7 million on his current deal, significantly more the Moulson's current contract, which was a 3-year, $9.4 million deal.

The fact that the Islanders threw in a first-round pick in next year's draft and another second-round pick in the 2015 draft shows that either the Islanders were desperate to get this deal done or they are both very high on Vanek and very confident that they can keep him in the fold by signing him to a new deal.

Moulson has become a star since Snow signed him to a minor league deal in 2009, the same summer that the Isles drafted their current franchise cornerstone, John Tavares. Tavares and Moulson have great chemistry on the ice (they've been called the "Dynamic Duo" among other things), and there are many who believe that Moulson would not have become the three-time 30-goal scorer that he is had it not been for the help of Tavares.

Still, Moulson's numbers, and his contributions to the upstart Isles playoff push last season are irrefutable.

The two players have eerily similar numbers since Moulson joined the Islanders in 2009. Vanek is 110-127-237 and a minus-1. Moulson is 118-105-223 and a minus-10. They are both 29 years of age.

"Matt has been a great player for us the past few years," Snow told Newsday. "Obviously he's a good person. But I can tell you I'm not happy with where we are record wise. We're better than this. We need to take the next step and I wasn't just going to sit by and let games pass."

"It's sad to leave people you care about and love behind," Moulson told "I think over the years I've shown my want to be a part of the organization and turning around the team into being successful. I guess, obviously, in the long run, they didn't feel the same.... I guess this is what happens in pro sports. I gotta move on. Obviously, I'll miss everyone, but this will be a new chapter.""