Thomas Vanek skates with his new team. (AP Images)
Everyone knew it was going to happen eventually. No one knew where or when it would happen though. The first big shoe dropped in the Sabres rebuilding season earlier this week, trading star winger Thomas Vanek to the New York Islanders for 29-year old winger Matt Moulson along with a first round pick this year and a second rounder next year.
The trade makes sense all around. Vanek wasn’t going to resign, even though there was talk of making #26 the highest paid player in the NHL…woah. 40 goals in two different seasons is good and all, but not worth more than MVP Alex Ovechkin or Stanley Cup Champions like Sidney Crosby and Patrick Kane.
In return the Sabres got a decently talented player in Moulson who ranks in the top 10 in goals since the 2009-2010 season with 120. Moulson also carries a much smaller salary cap hit at just over $3 million as opposed to Vanek’s $7 mil plus per year.
The more important aspect of the trade though, is the acquisition of draft picks. There is nothing more valuable to a rebuilding team than draft picks. Not only for drafting young talent, but picks are also perfect trade fodder if the Sabres intend on bringing in some more talented players in the off-season.
The next part of the rebuilding equation is Ryan Miller. As I stated in one of my earlier blogs, the Sabres need to do something with Vanek and Miller, Vanek is gone, Miller is next.
There’s been rumors of numerous new homes for the America’s Olympic hero in 2010, mostly in the western conference. The most interesting of which could be the young upstart Colorado Avalanche who, with recently embattled goaltender Semyon Varlamov, may be in desperate need of a goalie to put them over the top.
Where ever Miller ends up, the Sabres should expect to get a large package in return, possibly even bigger than what they got for Vanek. If not, Sabres fans have every right to be upset. Even more upset than the beginning to this dismal season has made them.