For a team that has long been mocked for never swinging for the fences, you’d think the Islanders watched one of the premiere left wings in hockey go to their cross L.I.E. rivals. No, the Islanders, THE ISLANDERS, for once reeled in a big fish. At least 70 games of him, and possibly beyond, playoffs and contract extension permitting. I will not attempt to minimize what they gave up, as some have done, but I will merely evaluate it fairly.
The Islanders, are as currently constructed, going to be in the playoff race all season. They aren’t good enough to pull away but not bad enough to fall out of it. That means the first rounder will be between 13 and 26. That’s Dylain Macilraith territory, not Connor McDavid. The 2nd rounder, will presumably be a mid round pick as well, which means 43-56 overall. That’s not the premiere trade chip it’s being portrayed as. The Islanders farm system is literally better than anyone elses in the NHL on the Blueline and at Centre. What don’t we have? A first line wing. Worry, no more. Finally, the last asset we bid adieu to is John Tavares’ best friend and wing man, a true Long Island fan favorite, Matt Moulson. I will elaborate below why it was okay to deal him, in my opinion.
6 Reasons I Love This Trade And You Should Too
1. The Tavares Factor -This morning, both John Tavares and Thomas Vanek (along with the lucky sonnovagun Kyle Okposo) became part of the best line they ever played on. They instantly became the best players each other had ever shared a line with. Think about that. This isn’t a case of a parasitic relationship where we bring in a washed up Boyes-ian vet to leech off Tavares’ skill. Tavares WILL make Vanek better, but Vanek can also make Tavares better.
2. Hello, Brooklyn, but it’s not time to say goodbye, Long Island – The Islanders are in the middle of an awkward transition. They are moving from Suburbia to become perhaps as Urban a team as it gets. They need buzz to dent the landscape. This trade is a headline grabber. It’s a power move. It’s an announcement that they will not go into Brooklyn on the same old shoe string budget, AND that they are not merely playing out the string on Long Island.
3. The Playoffs were nice. This is a move about ending that phase – This is a change in mindset. This is the big boy pants move this fanbase had wanted for so long. This is a move that definitively states, WE ARE OUT OF THE PHASE WHERE THE END GOAL IS MAKING THE PLAYOFFS. This is a GO COMPETE FOR THE STANLEY CUP move. Think about that, the New York Islanders loading up… for a run at Lord Stanley’s Cup. What a day and age.
4. This isn’t trading your tires for a new interior, this is trading your tires for a whole new sports car – Matt Moulson is a wonderful hockey player. I do not mean to diminish or slight his over 100 goals he’s notched on Long Island. He is willing to go to the dirty areas and pay the price. Few in this age of hockey do that. That said, he is dependent on a distributor. If Tavares is out with injury, can he drive the bus offensively? No. Vanek can. People point to their similarity in numbers and say ‘they are the same player’ because people are idiots.
Moulson put up his numbers next to one of the arguably 5 best players in the world. Thomas Vanek put up his numbers with Patrick Kaleta as the second most recognizable forward on his team. Vanek isn’t getting Tavares fancy hubcaps or a spoiler. Vanek is another fine automobile piece of ass, imported, from Austria, by way of Buffalo. Is Matt Moulson who you give Tavares Money to? No. He’s not. I’m sorry. He’s a legit number 2 scorer and a great player and loyal soldier, but he is a 2nd scoring option.
The difference between a primary weapon and a secondary one is the primary can create on his own. Tavares affords Moulson space to use his skills and net drive. Vanek… gives Tavares space. We weren’t letting Moulson walk for free a la Parenteau or Blake. We got the BEST PLAYER ON THE MARKET for him. Nobody, NOBODY this year, will trade for a better player than Thomas Vanek. Think about that.
5. It’s time to let love in, Islanders fans – Art Staple of Newsday was hammering home the point that Isles fans are so psychologically scarred by Milbury that they don’t trust any trade. This trade is a bold move. Yes, it’s a risk given that Vanek is a pending FA, but so was Moulson. And Vanek affords us something Moulson doesn’t: The possibility of seeing Wang open the purse strings to keep him. Moulson was going to walk. That was by design. Now, we enter a new era, where the Islanders do crazy things like MAKE IMPACT TRADES and ADD SALARY (Vanek’s cap hit is 4m HIGHER than Moulson’s this year). The dog days are over kids. Your hockey team wants to win. They want you back. It’s okay to love them again. They want to matter. BeLIeve in them.
6. Nobody is safe – There is a lockerroom dynamic, right? The boys have all grown up together. They love one another. You could see the pain in Moulson’s face when he discussed the trade. This team is a family. But it is also still a business. Once in a while, the boys need a little reminder. Turgeon for Lafontaine. Harris and Lewis for Goring. You need to shake up a room now and then. Welcome to the new age, kids.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t end this by thanking Matt Moulson for being here through some rough years and lighting our path towards a better future (along with a great many red lights). He is the proverbial quintessential Islander. That’s why this trade is so tough. Nobody epitomizes the ‘started from the bottom and now we’re here’ mindset of this team quite like Matt. He worked so damn hard here. He’s a true fan favorite and he busted his ass to transition from AHL journeyman to First Line NHL winger. I wish him nothing but the best and will always have a place in my heart for him. Good luck Matt.
And welcome to Long Island, Mr. Vanek.