The New York Islanders made their big splash in the NHL pond, probably their biggest in a long, long time, actually. The Islanders shipped off Matt Moulson, a 2014 1st round pick and a 2015 2nd round pick for impending UFA Thomas Vanek. On the surface, it sounds like the Islanders got a lot better, but did they?
Look, Vanek was an elite player, is still a very, very good player and has scored 40 goals twice in his career. But at this stage is he still a 40-goal guy? The last time he scored 40 goals was in 2008, when he noted 40 goals and 24 assists for 64 points in 73 games. Since then? He's scored 28, 32 and 36 goals before scoring 20 in 38 games during last year's lockout-shortened season. He has four goals through 13 games this year.
So, again, on the surface the Islanders got an elite (or at the very least very good) goal scorer to help push them over the top, right? Well, not exactly.
The Islanders shipped off Moulson, their own goal machine and a guy who has amazing chemistry with John Tavares. Moulson has played in three full seasons with the Islander scoring 30, 31 and 36 goals before scoring 15 in 47 games during the lockout-shortened season.
Is Vanek that much of an upgrade? And, more importantly, is he so much of an upgrade that he's worth a 1st and a 2nd round pick to boot? I'm not so sure.
You know what else isn't set in stone? Vanek coming back to the Islanders after the year is over. According to multiple reports from multiple people who would know, Vanek and the Islanders did not have any conversations about a contract extension before the deal was agreed to. That means Vanek can walk away for nothing at the end of the year if he wants to. Is that worth the risk?
Or, assuming Vanek does want to stay, you would have to assume Vanek gets a max seven-year deal from the Islanders worth around $8-million a year, no? Let's not beat around the bush here, Vanek knows the Islanders can't afford to lose him for nothing, and so does his agent. So is it really in the Islanders' best interest to sign a guy on the wrong end of 30 to a seven-year deal worth that much money? Again, I'm not so sure.
To me, this move is more of a panic move than anything else. That, or Garth Snow got caught up in the allure of a big name being floated on the trade block. Plus, the Islanders big issues so far haven't been goal scoring, they've been goaltending and defense. If you're the Islanders and you're talking to Buffalo, it should be for Ryan Miller, not Vanek.
At the end of the day Vanek and Tavares will make for a scary combination the New York Rangers will have to see often this season. But is it that much worse than Tavares and Moulson? And is it worth everything else the Islanders had to do, and will have to deal with, in order to bring Vanek into the fold?