BUFFALO – In a stunning development, the Sabres have traded 29-year-old co-captain Thomas Vanek, arguably their top player, to the New York Islanders for Matt Moulson, their 2014 first-round pick and a 2015 second-round pick.
The slick winger, an upcoming unrestricted free agent, has expressed an interesting in leaving the Sabres if their rebuilding process takes too long.
Clearly, the Sabres’ awful 2-10-1 start couldn’t convince Vanek to stick around.
In the 29-year-old Moulson, the Sabres have a winger who scored 30 or more goals three straight seasons.
UPDATE: Here are some quotes from Sabres general manager Darcy Regier discussing the deal, which had been worked on “off on and for a while,” tonight inside the First Niagara Center.
“Matt will address our current needs and provide us with support, leadership, scoring, and with where our hockey club is, the first- and second-round picks are important.”
On if this makes the 2-10-1 team better now:
“Obviously, Thomas is one of the top proven scorers in the National Hockey League. But with his unrestricted status, I think Matt comes in and, right now he’s got six goals in the National Hockey League and is off to a good start and is a goal scorer and plays in the hard areas, on the power play. … But this is more the overall deal, which I believe will improve this hockey club moving forward.”
On if they traded Vanek knowing he wouldn’t re-sign:
“No, the absolutely sure thing I don’t think was possible given where we were, where we look at the core group. I think our focus is on trying to acquire assets, in this case draft picks.”
On Moulson’s status as an upcoming UFA:
“Right now, he’s here for the rest of the season.”
On Vanek’s reaction:
“Like a lot of players, he was shocked, very professional. I thanked him. He was good. He was as good as he could be.”
On the future on goalie Ryan Miller, another upcoming UFA:
“I’ve really had no discussions as of late with respect to any of our other potential free agents.”
On the outside influences clamoring for the Sabres to do something:
“I don’t want to show any lack of respect to our fans, but internally it’s … just doing the work and focusing on what our plan in and just executing it as well and as soon as possible, and that is on behalf of the fans.”