Rapid Reaction: Islanders deal Vanek

March, 5, 2014
3/05/14
5:41
PM ET
Well, if you are an Islanders fan, you have good reason to be very, very disappointed.

Granted, it could have been worse. In fact, it looked that way when the clock struck 3:01 p.m. ET with no deal for pending unrestricted free agent Thomas Vanek had been announced. Not being able to move the 30-year-old winger, especially considering what they originally gave up to acquire him in October from Buffalo, would’ve been an absolute disaster.

Islanders general manager Garth Snow avoided that, which many believed would have been a fireable offense, but he still bungled a critical deal in the future of the organization.

Snow sent Vanek -- a two-time 40-goal scorer and perhaps the most coveted forward on the rental market -- plus a conditional fifth-round pick to Montreal for what appears to be a pretty meager return.

The Islanders acquired a conditional 2014 second-round pick and Swedish prospect Sebastian Collberg in the deal, which pales in comparison to what they surrendered to land Vanek in the early-season blockbuster with Buffalo. Looking to shake things up with his team, Snow sent heart-and-soul winger Matt Moulson, plus a first-round pick and a second-round pick to the Sabres. Compare the two returns, and you can understand why Islanders fans are livid.

What’s more, the Islanders won’t even get back that second-round pick if the Canadiens don’t make the playoffs -- a nightmare scenario that would mean all they get in the deal is Collberg, who is 20. And he’s not exactly lighting things up over in the Swedish Elite League. Collberg, a 5-foot-11 winger, has three goals and nine points in 40 games for Frolunda.

Now, compare that also with the returns that other players netted -- guys like Moulson, Marian Gaborik, arguably even David Legwand -- and it’s hard not to feel that Snow was unable to maximize his return.

What is even more perplexing is that Snow didn’t believe it was a ripe market, going so far as to characterize it as “very quiet.”

“It wasn’t the same action you usually see at the trade deadline,” Snow said in a conference call.

That was him speaking about a jam-packed few days that saw the likes of Ryan Callahan, Martin St. Louis, Roberto Luongo, Gaborik, and Moulson traded.

Perhaps he waited too long. It did seem like the market shifted on Vanek, as other teams began exploring other options at the forward position, and judging by the timing of the announcement of the deal, Snow took it down to the wire.

Could he have been facing a scenario in which he was painted into a corner, forced to accept the only deal remaining with time winding down?

Snow said the club feels “very fortunate” to have done the deal he did, which he insisted was the most favorable that came across his table.

“This was the best offer we received,” he said.

Too bad for the Islanders and their fans that it wasn’t significantly better.
Katie Strang covers the NHL for ESPN.com. She is a graduate of Michigan State University and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
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