Early Sunday evening, the New York Islanders stopped the hockey world in its tracks when they announced they'd traded forward Matt Moulson plus two draft choices—a first-rounder in 2014 and a second-rounder in 2015—to the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for Thomas Vanek.
That's a high price considering Vanek and Moulson are pretty similar at this point in their careers. Each is 29 years old and scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.
Vanek was younger when he made the NHL and put up bigger numbers in those first few years, as you can see by their career stats:
Thomas Vanek: 598 GP, 254-243-497
Matt Moulson: 333 GP, 124-109-233
The last couple of seasons, however, tell a different story. Both players have nine points this year. Last season, Vanek had 41 points while Moulson had 44, and in 2011-12, Moulson had 69 compared to Vanek's 61.
TSN's Bob McKenzie reports that despite the similar stats, Islanders general manager Garth Snow sees Vanek as an elite player:
Although the Islanders paid a premium price, McKenzie also confirms that there's no guarantee he'll re-sign on Long Island.
The Islanders are an exciting young team. Vanek should love playing with their talented forwards, but at first glance it looks like Snow has once again made a trade that defies logic.
As for the Sabres, the expected housecleaning is now officially underway. Watch for a Ryan Miller deal to follow soon.