Why Islanders GM thinks Thomas Vanek is a good gamble | Hockey | CBC Sports

Hockey Night in CanadaWhy Islanders GM thinks Thomas Vanek is a good gamble

Posted: Sunday, October 27, 2013 | 11:02 PM

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The Thomas Vanek era is now over in Buffalo, as he was shipped to the New York Islanders on Sunday in exchange for Matt Moulson and a pair of draft picks. The Thomas Vanek era is now over in Buffalo, as he was shipped to the New York Islanders on Sunday in exchange for Matt Moulson and a pair of draft picks.

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New York Islanders GM Garth Snow gave up Matt Moulson and a pair of high draft picks to land Thomas Vanek from the Buffalo Sabres, but he believes it was a good gamble and worth the price. 
A few weeks before the 2007 NHL trade deadline, Garth Snow walked up to Kevin Lowe and said, "If you decide to trade Ryan Smyth, we're interested." 

After a failed, bitter negotiation, Edmonton sent the winger to Long Island for Robert Nilsson, Ryan O'Marra and a first-round pick who became Alex Plante.

The Islanders beat the Devils in a shootout on the last day of the regular season to make the playoffs, losing in five games to Buffalo. Smyth had 19 points in 23 games, but, as a free agent, left for Colorado in the summer. 

Snow thought it was a good gamble then, just as he believes Thomas Vanek is a good gamble now, trading Matt Moulson, a first-round draft pick in 2014 and a second-rounder in 2015 to Buffalo for the Austrian winger. 

Both players will be unrestricted free agents this summer. Snow did not discuss an extension with Vanek prior to the deal. Judging from the timing, he probably wasn't too keen on extending Moulson. 

Moulson was a very popular teammate, but Snow certainly doesn't believe the core group was making enough of a positive statement. 

"I didn't like the way we'd been playing," he told Newsday's Arthur Staple on Sunday night. "We're better than our record indicates and we need to take the next step."

He is letting them know that if it doesn't get better, more is coming. 

Other teams were wary of giving major assets for Vanek, believing he will take a long look at Minnesota this summer. He went to school there, his wife is from there and he has a home there. But the Islanders convinced Evgeni Nabokov and Lubomir Visnovsky to stay put after both balked when first acquired. 

Dynamic player

A couple of those other teams said they still viewed Vanek as a dynamic player. No doubt, he'll be energized playing alongside John Tavares.

And, if it doesn't work, Snow could always flip Vanek, couldn't he?

Say what you want about Darcy Regier, who is not Mr. Popularity in Sabreland, but he's dealt Vanek and Jason Pominville for Matt Hackett, Johan Larsson, Moulson and Nikita Zadorov, with a first-rounder and two second-rounders to come. 

The deal gives Buffalo nine selections in the first two rounds of the next two drafts. 

"With where our hockey club is, the first- and the second-round picks are important," he said in a Sunday night media conference. 

Regier should get a call from the A&E television network, asking him if he wants to guest star on "Hoarders." 

It's very likely more of these picks are coming, as Regier acknowledged the possibility Moulson moves again this season. And, no one is forgetting another UFA-to-be, Ryan Miller.

All he's done is make GMs think, "If he's that good behind that team, what can he do for ours?"

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