John Tavares, meet your new winger. His name is Thomas Vanek, and he’s about to score a lot of goals for the New York Islanders. After months of speculation, the Buffalo Sabres pulled the trigger on a blockbuster deal that sent the impending free agent to Long Island.
In return, the Sabres acquired Matt Moulson and draft picks.
— Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) October 28, 2013
According to various sources, the Islanders do not a contract extension in place for Vanek.
NYI say they do not have a contract extension in place with Thomas Vanek. He’s UFA at the end of the season.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) October 28, 2013
With the specifics of the deal in place, now the major question: Are the Islanders better now than they are before this deal? While the value of the picks won’t be known until the Islanders know what kind of pick they gave up, if Vanek helps them into the playoffs and ends up sticking around, Buffalo will have to draft pretty well to make this one a wash.
The clear and obvious motivation is to give Tavares a bona fide, lights-out winger. Remember all those conversations that we had about how Sidney Crosby badly needed and elite forward to play with? Well he still doesn’t have one. Meanwhile on Long Island…
How about this, Islanders fans?
Now imagine him doing all those things with one of the five best centers in the NHL feeding him the puck. This gives New York one of the top scoring duos in the league immediately. If a guy like Kyle Okposo can click on that line and add another big body to the mix? This could quickly become liquid fire for the Isles.
The thing that Vanek brings to the table that most people don’t realize is a strong presence below the hash marks. He’s fantastic in the corners and is a great net-front presence.
It Tavares can turn Moulson into a consistent scoring threat, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Vanek suddenly morph into a 50-goal scorer.