After posting my recent analysis on the Moulson-Vanek trade, a few additional details of the trade were reported by Pierre LeBrun at ESPN.com.
First, the Islanders have an option to defer the first round selection surrendered to Buffalo until the 2015 draft, if their 2014 first rounder is a top ten pick. There is no word about any limitations on the pick if it is deferred.
Secondly, the Sabres are eating approximately $1.4 million of Vanek’s salary in the deal.
These two concessions mitigate the risk taken on by Islanders GM Garth Snow in the trade. The Islanders are a team that is driven by their youth. Even if they should fail to make the playoffs this year and pick in the top ten (as Vukota expects), they have a very strong prospect core, with young impact talent not currently on the NHL roster including Ryan Strome (ranked as the #11 prospect overall by Corey Pronman), Ryan Pulock (#24), Griffin Reinhart (#34) and Calvin De Haan (#98), while Brock Nelson (#61) and Matt Donovan (#105) should be better after getting their feet wet as rookies this year. In other words, the Islanders are a team with an upward trajectory, even if they regress to the mean this year. Should they finish in the bottom ten, there are plenty of reasons to believe that they will place far better in the standings in 2014-15, especially if they ramp up roster spending in anticipation of the move to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn the following year. With this new information, I am comfortable downgrading the risk taken on by Snow’s inclusion of the first rounder.
With the knowledge that the Sabres are kicking in $1.4 million to cover Vanek’s salary, that more or less entirely negates the cash advantage described in the original analysis. Further, that will maintain the Islanders’ relative cap strength for future deals should an opportunity arise.
In summary, the Vanek deal still presents a risk for the Islanders. There are now simply parameters in place that mitigate that risk, but the risk is still present, as they surrendered a number of strong assets for – barring a contract extension – a 70 game player rental. The Sabres still did well to find a buyer so early in the season, as they could command more value in return with the buying team receiving more today then they would via a trade deadline deal and now the Sabres will not have to worry about torpedoing trade value through an unfortunate injury. The deal is still a win for Buffalo in terms of their proximity to a competitive window, without guaranteeing that the Islanders move any closer to their own.
Ryan Wagman is a long-time author of Hockey Prospectus including his Zamboni Tracks transactions column, a contributor to several HP annuals, contributor to ESPN Insider, and long-suffering Toronto Maple Leafs supporter.
Follow Ryan on Twitter at @RAWagman.