The decision to make the Thomas Vanek trade three years ago, may not have been as bad a decision as we are led to believe. Reexamining that deal seems pertinent with how the Islanders season has begun. In the lockout season of 2012-2013, it seemed that the Islanders arrived. They made a huge jump from the bottom of the standing into the playoffs. With a young core of talent many believed it was the beginnings of a run for the Isles. After what seemed like an endless rebuild success was on the horizon.
Fast forward to October 2013. The Isles started the season 4-4-3 and were in second place in the Atlantic but seventh in the east. While they weren’t terrible they were towards the back of the pack. Garth Snow knowing that there were finally expectations on this team jumped into action. The Sabres were obvious in their attempts to unload any talented veterans on their roster to stockpile young assets (some would say tank). Thomas Vanek a UFA following the season was the prime target to move. The Sabres knew that they would not be resigning Vanek so they wanted to move him before the deadline. The Isles were in a similar situation with Matt Moulson, as he was also UFA and the Isles were not going to pay to bring him back. That made the base of this deal, the only addition was that the Isles would include a first-round pick in the swap (either in 2014 or 2015, it ended up be a 2015 first round pick). While this is a steep price to pay, what could have been almost a full season of Thomas Vanek may have been worth the selection.
For the first (and only) time in his career John Tavares has a top-flight winger to play with. When the deal brought plenty of excitement to Long Island, for the first time since Ryan Smythe the Islanders made a win now move. The problem was the season was not saved. Even though Vanek scored 17 goals along with 27 assists (44 points) in 47 games (.94 points per games) that was not enough. Vanek’s .94 points per game for his half season on Long Island would have been one of his better seasons. Thomas Vanek was actually a very good Islander during his time here. With the rest of the season falling apart the Islanders eventually moved him at the last minute before the trade deadline and only got a second-round selection, which was actually less than Buffalo got for Moulson. So the final balance showed the Isles gave away a first round pick and got nothing in return.
It’s safe to say that this deal did not work in 2013-14 but that does not mean it was a terrible decision. Sometimes circumstances lead you to make a decision, you make the correct decision and things still don’t work out for other reasons. Garth Snow look a chance, but it is misguided to call it a terrible decision. Snow like many fans (though he should know better) overestimated the arrival of that club. This year many factors are different. This is a team that has made the playoffs two consecutive seasons and was one of the eight best teams last season. They also have a franchise player that they need to make happy as he firmly enters his prime. The time for rebuilding around John Tavares is over. The biggest crime of this Vanek trade would be if it makes Snow gun shy about making a big move. That team was not ready to make the leap forward, this team needs the push to make the leap (and if it can’t it will fall on its face). The Islanders can survive giving up to much to get a player to change their season, they can’t afford to be afraid to make a controversial move.
After the disastrous performance, last week, Coach Capuano’s seat has cooled down if only a little bit. Two disappointing shootout loses hurt but a rebound effort Monday vs Vancouver seems to have given some hope. With multiple players finally getting on the scoresheet it will be interesting to see if this is the type of game to get them going or did they just beat a worse hockey team. With that question, the seat has cooled but only a little
Current Temperature, 50
Three Stars of the Week
3.Nick Leddy 1G 1 A, Leddy made a great play to get himself in position to open the game Saturday with a very early goal. In addition, he had the first assist on Andrew Ladd’s first goal of the season. Now with Hamonic out for a while more pressure will be on Leddy to be the top defenseman this team needs to stay in the hunt during Hamonic’s absence.
2.. John Tavares, 1 G 2A. In what seems like a ho hum week for Tavares he was involved in goals in all three games last week. He scored Thursday vs Philadelphia, and set up Leddy on Saturday along with Kulemin on Monday. The problem is a good week for everyone else is an average week for John.
1 Dennis Seidenberg 1G 2A. Seidenberg has been a great addition so far this season. He is third on the team in points with four goals and four assists while playing almost no power play time. While it’s still early he is also a plus 10 which is tops for the team. Seidenberg looks rejuvenated and is not someone who can be taken out of the lineup now.
Before becoming one of the best follows on Twitter, before the craziness in Vancouver, and even before his first tour of duty in Florida, the Islanders gave up on him. After drafting him with the fourth overall selection in 1997, the Isles felt like he was not progressing to the level they were expecting of him. So, the Isles traded him to Florida with Ollie Jokenin for Mark Parrish and Oleg Kvashia. This was a four-player deal in which the Isles in explicitly gave up the two best players. This opened the position to draft Rick DiPietro. Every time the Islanders play Luongo it reminds fans of the missed opportunity of having a pretty good goaltender over the last 15 years.