Thomas Vanek dealt to Canadiens from Islanders
Islanders receive conditional 2nd-round pick, prospect Collberg
The Montreal Canadiens have bolstered themselves up front as they eye an Atlantic Division title.
General manager Marc Bergevin, with his team eight points back of the division-leading Boston Bruins, picked up top-line forward Thomas Vanek and a 2014 conditional fifth-round draft pick from the New York Islanders on Wednesday for a 2014 conditional second-round draft pick and Swedish forward prospect Sebastian Collberg.
It's believed the Canadiens have to reach the post-season for the picks to change hands.
Habs head coach Michel Therrien gave the move his approval, saying he's thrilled with the addition.
"Wow, what great news for our team," said coach Michel Therrien, whose club was in Anaheim to play the Ducks. "I look at that move as a sign of confidence from [general manager] Marc Bergevin to the players, for the work they've put in since the start of the season.
"It's a really exciting addition. It's important for us to continue doing what we've been doing all year now. Thomas Vanek is a prolific scorer who can play on the right side or the left. We all know what he can bring to a power play, too."
Vanek, perhaps the most sought-after forward on deadline day, is set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. He's in the final season of a seven-year, $50 million US deal.
He also welcomes the change of scenery with open arms.
"When you think of a hockey Mecca, Montreal is it," Vanek said on a conference call. "I played many times for Buffalo in Montreal and it's so electric. I'm super excited."
He gives Montreal a strong 1-2 punch at left wing along with Max Pacioretty, and will suit up Thursday night in Phoenix against the Coyotes, according to head coach Michel Therrien.
Vanek, 29, scored 17 goals and 44 points in 47 games with the Islanders after being acquired in a Oct. 27 trade with Buffalo that sent fellow forward Matt Moulson and draft picks to the Sabres. Moulson, also an impending UFA, found himself on the move Wednesday, traded to Minnesota.
Vanek has 21 goals overall, including 15 at even-strength, and 53 points in 60 games, making him Montreal's top point-getter, ahead of defenceman P.K. Subban and Pacioretty (42 points each).
Vanek also said he wants to move on and focus on helping his new team, and not dwell on the past.
"It's been a tough year for me and my family," said the married father of three. "I knew there was a chance we'd move again. Now it's over and I'm a Montreal Canadien and I can just focus on hockey and helping that team win a lot of games."
In 645 career NHL games with the Islanders and Sabres, Vanek has 271 goals and 270 assists for 541 points.
Collberg, 20, has nine points in 40 games this season for Frolunda in the Swedish Hockey League.
He raised some eyebrows at the world junior hockey championship earlier this year, with some hockey observers saying he was instrumental in Sweden's gold-medal victory.
He also caught the attention of Islanders general manager Garth Snow who said he has had him on the radar for a while.
"We've liked him for a few years," said Snow. "We projected him as a potential first rounder. Great speed, great hands. He has the potential to be a top-six forward. There's also a potential second rounder. It was a good day in that regard in trying circumstances."
Montreal drafted Collberg in the second round (33rd overall) in 2012.
With files from The Canadian Press