The Buffalo Sabres were looking to rebuild pretty much from the outset this season. They made a move early, sending Thomas Vanek to the New York Islanders for Matt Moulson and a first and third round draft pick. Moulson, when healthy, has been a 30 goal scorer, and is transitioning to a role that includes more puck distribution. This is all to say that the Islanders gave up quite a bit for Vanek in a bid to reach the post season. For their part, Vanek was one of the more sought after pieces available from the dismantling of the Sabres.
Today, 4 1/2 months later, both players were on the move again. The Islanders had to unload Vanek as they are going to fall short in their post season bid. They moved Vanek for a slow developing Swedish prospect and a conditional pick, acquiring those assets from the Canadiens. The Sabres shipped Moulson and physical two way center Cody McCormick to Minnesota for Torrey Mitchell and some heretofore unknown draft picks.
If you are still doing the math, let’s spell it out for you. The Sabres turned what was one of the top trade assets in the beginning of the season into a first and third round pick, as well as Torrey Mitchell, the loss of Cody McCormick and some undefined picks. It’s hardly the invigorating rebuild that Sabres fans wanted, I’m sure. At least they added picks, albeit in a weak draft.
The Islanders did even worse. They dealt high draft picks, a popular player in Moulson and a conditional 5th round pick for a fringe prospect and a conditional 2nd round pick. It’s not as good as it should be for the Sabres, who should have pulled back some more tangible talent, but it was a significantly worse deal for the Islanders.