With their latest trade it appears the Buffalo Sabres are in full-out rebuilding mode. Darcy Regier has pulled the trigger on his first trade of the season by sending Thomas Vanek to the New York Islanders in exchange for Matt Moulson and two draft picks.
Thomas Vanek was heading into free agency and it was rumoured he would not re-sign with the Sabres so Regier really had no choice but to trade the Sabres most lethal forward away. The timing of the deal is a little surprising as many expected the Sabres to hold out until the trade-deadline.
In exchange for Vanek the Sabres will get a solid forward in Matt Moulson, the Islanders 1st-round draft pick in 2014 and a 2nd round
pick in 2015. Much like Vanek, Moulson is a consistent 30 goal-scorer and should fill Vanek’s spot on the top-line nicely. The only problem with the deal is that Moulson will be a free agent after the season, was trading a top-notch forward like Vanek for a rental really the right move for the Buffalo Sabres?
Thomas Vanek had been a member of the Buffalo Sabres since they drafted him 5th overall in 2003. He spent 7 full season’s with the Sabres scoring 250 goals and racking up 488 points while wearing the blue and gold.
Moulson was also drafted in the 2003 draft but taken 263rd overall by the Pittsburgh Penguins and has bounced around the NHL a bit more. He spent some time with the Los Angeles Kings before landing with the Islanders. He’s played in 322 NHL games and racked up 118 goals and 224 points and is a three time 30 goal-scorer.
Moulson is a dangerous guy down low on the powerplay and will hopefully be able to jumpstart a Sabres power play ranked 29th in the NHL. Moulson has had the benefit of playing alongside a John Tavares and while Cody Hodgson is good in his own respect, he’s no Tavares and that could definitely hurt Moulson’s production as he benefits from an elite centre alongside him.
He’s the type of player the Sabres will be able to utilize on the powerplay and down low/in front of the net to score the “dirty goals”. It’s expected that Moulson will take Vanek’s spot on the top line, but he could benefit from playing with some young and speedy kids that will help him adapt to the speed.
Moulson has developed his game through the college ranks playing for Cornell University and while he isn’t one of the big name players on the Islanders he is an underrated forward who can put up the points for a team with his scoring instincts.
Darcy Regier managed to get some solid value for Thomas Vanek by dragging two draft picks out of the deal. While it’s almost certainly a downgrade from Vanek, the draft picks should help soften the blow for the future, especially if Moulson leaves as a free agent.
For the Sabres this was more of a catch 22 scenario. Trade Thomas Vanek now for whatever you can get or wait until the deadline and perhaps take a much worse deal or risk having to keep him until he leaves in free agency. The bottom line of this deal; the Buffalo Sabres are rebuilding and Thomas Vanek either wasn’t in their future plans or didn’t want to be apart of the longing rebuild.
What are your thought’s on the deal? Where should Moulson play?