NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The Islanders knew for some time they had to trade Thomas Vanek. On Wednesday they put a daring-yet-failed move behind them.
As the NHL trade deadline expired at 3 p.m., Vanek was traded to the Montreal Canadiens for a conditional 2014 second-round pick and prospect Sebastian Collberg, capping a busy 24 hours that also saw general manager Garth Snow ship veteran defenseman Andrew MacDonald to Philadelphia for a pair of draft picks and a prospect.
The Canadiens only give up the second-round pick if they make the playoffs. In that case the Islanders would give them their fifth-round pick. If Montreal misses the postseason, picks do not change hands and the trade becomes basically Vanek for Collberg.
Collberg is a 20-year-old winger from Sweden who is currently playing for Frolunda of the Swedish League. He was Montreal’s second-round pick in 2012.
It appears Snow didn’t get as much for Vanek as many had hoped, but he told reporters later Wednesday he sees potential in the return.
“It wasn’t a very active market. Speaking for today, this was the best deal that was tabled,” Snow said. “With this deal and the MacDonald deal, we have some chips we can play with at the draft and a potential top six forward in Collberg.”
The Islanders were forced to deal the 30-year-old Vanek, who is considered one of the elite power forwards in the NHL, after he turned down a seven-year, $50 million contract offer in February. Vanek was acquired from Buffalo back in October for popular forward Matt Moulson, a conditional first-round draft pick and a 2015 second-round pick.
Vanek played well for the Islanders, amassing 17 goals and 27 assists in 47 games, but never intended to re-sign with New York. He consistently stated that testing unrestricted free agency was his goal, though he said this past Monday that he might have considered accepting the Islanders’ offer if they were a better team.
“I’d like to thank Garth and the New York Islanders. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out for both sides,” Vanek said following the trade.
The Islanders (24-32-8) entered Tuesday night’s 3-2 overtime win in Winnipeg in last place in the Metropolitan Division, a major disappointment following last spring’s playoff appearance, the franchise’s first in six years. Vanek was scratched prior to the game, indicating a deal was near. However, he did travel with New York to Edmonton, where the Isles play Thursday.
After failing to upgrade two glaring areas of need — defense and goaltending — during the offseason, Snow was criticized by many for using assets to acquire an elite forward, though it had been known for some time that franchise center John Tavares needed such a player on his wing.
Vanek did his part while with the Islanders, but it wasn’t enough to convince him to sign long-term. There has been speculation that he wants to play in Minnesota, due to the fact that he played collegiately at the University of Minnesota and because his wife is from the area. Once Vanek turned down the Islanders’ offer it became evident that Snow not only had to trade him but had to do the best he could to recoup what was given up to acquire him.
Since the Islanders are likely going to finish with a top 10 pick this season, they can keep it and give Buffalo their first pick in 2015. However, many experts have already touted the 2015 draft as very deep so Snow might part with his 2014 first rounder instead, barring the Islanders not holding a top two or three selection.
The trade the Islanders made Tuesday that sent veteran defenseman MacDonald to Philadelphia also helped offset the Vanek losses. New York received a third-round pick in 2014, a second-rounder in 2015 and a prospect.
MacDonald, 27, had turned down a four-year, $16 million contract offer earlier in the season.
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