Garth Snow played deadline roulette, put the Islanders money on black and red, and the ball landed on the double-zero greens. For those of you unfamiliar with that analogy: the Isles managed to lose on deadline day when it was legitimately a hard result to accomplish.
At the start of the year, Long Island had Matt Moulson, a highly coveted asset heading to UFA. They traded him and a first round pick (2014 or 2015), and a second round pick (2014) for Thomas Vanek, and a better shot at playoffs. Eventually, they knew they would be flipping Vanek at the deadline – he said he wouldn’t re-sign, favoring unrestricted free agency instead – so they waited until the last second, and turned Vanek into…a second round pick and a mediocre prospect (Sebastien Collberg). The kicker is, if the Habs make the playoffs, the Islanders send back a fifth-rounder (if they miss, no picks are involved in the deal. Just Vanek for Collberg).
As in, New York lost Moulson for nothing. More accurately, they paid to get rid of a talented forward.
If you’re not picking up the vibe, the Montreal Canadiens won today, and won big. If you look around the Eastern Conference, it’s pretty wide open, and making a move like acquiring Vanek pushes home ice advantage in the post-season to near-lock status. No roster players lost, a great player gained. While the Habs won’t be able to re-sign their new acquisition (all signs point to the Wild this summer), that’s a pretty small cost to pay for a great rental. Especially when you consider what others have fetched – heck, Doug Murray cost more at last year’s deadline.
The Islanders have established a trend – they want to be a salary floor team, and they want to do that by trotting out prospects (preferably on entry-level deals) and waiver claims, then turning those players into more picks and prospects the second they come to flower and want money. And, to get to that salary floor, they have guys like Rick DiPietro, Alexei Yashin and in some cases, deals like Tim Thomas’ last year (no money out of pocket, but with a cap hit) still on the payroll.
The Habs come out looking pretty good in all of this. And of course, the Islanders, once again, look like an organization that belongs in Nassau Coliseum.