The struggles of the Buffalo Sabres have been discussed at great length. Whether it be their disciplinary issues, what with the respective suspensions handed out to Patrick Kaleta and John Scott. Or just the overall difficulty its been for the team to find wins (they currently sit at two).
Early in the season, it was surmised that a trade of franchise goalie Ryan Miller or offensive star Thomas Vanek wasn’t a matter of “if”, but “when.” And last night, the first shoe dropped, as Vanek was dealt to the New York Islanders for Matt Moulson. Though Moulson has tremendous upside, its a sad day for Sabres fans as Vanek’s time in Buffalo ends after eight very productive years.
Though the move came early in the season, Vanek admitted he wasn’t surprised. Can you blame him? Ever since last season, when the Sabres traded players such as Derek Roy, Jason Pominville and Robyn Regehr, their motives have been pretty apparent. Clearly Buffalo was in the midst of a rebuild, and Vanek admitted today it was something he had no interest in dealing with.
“We traded pretty much every veteran,” said Vanek. “The message was clear that they’re going for draft picks. I think our last game we played four teenagers. Good, young players, but young players take time. I enjoyed my time there, but I didn’t want to be a part of that.”
With the Sabres looking more than a few years away from contending again, it made all the sense in the world to deal Vanek now. He’s been open for a while now about his feelings towards the rebuild, and implied on more than a few occasions that he’d like to watch it as a spectator. In the final year of his contract, there was practically zero chance he would resign with Buffalo in the offseason. With Moulson, the Sabres net themselves a solid return.
Sad as it may be for Sabres fans seeing Vanek depart, its much better than having to watch him walk away next summer for nothing.