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Moulson – Vanek Trade Analysis

The trade is interesting.  Two players that score nearly the same amount of goals on a yearly basis, Moulson 30+ and Vanek, also 30 +, possibly 40.  So, on a good year, Vanek will score more than Moulson.  Most people believe Moulson’s stats were padded by playing with John Tavares. Vanek has the advantage of being a better 2 way player that can create as well as finish.  He’s already proven both skills in his 3 games with the Islanders.  He’ll be working with a great player in JT, so I’d count on some good numbers from Vanek moving forward, which only increases his value both monetarily, and in trade.

Is Moulson a 20 goal scorer without JT?  30?  He’s more likely a 20 goal scorer, but he’s got the rest of this season to prove everyone wrong and dial in a huge 30 + goal/season payday.  At best, he’ll earn Thomas Vanek money (7.14 million cap hit per season).

Vanek stands to increase his point and goal total playing alongside JT.  He, being Vanek, will also command Vanek money (and very likely a raise over his current 7 million), especially if he nets 40 or more with the Isles.  The Isles are desperate to sign him as well, so I would factor that into his final salary demands should he choose the Island as his home for the next 5 – 10 years.  The Isles obviously didn’t want to pay Moulson Vanek money, so will they be opposed to paying it to Vanek?

Why are the Islanders desperate to sign him?  It’s about saving face.  They rolled the dice with this deal.  Getting Vanek to stay give’s them more credibility as they begin the shift to the Barclay’s Center.  It’s not about the arena anymore, it’s about the team and Charles Wang’s check book.  If they’re not interested in paying Vanek, then they shouldn’t have made the trade.  I’m glad they made the trade.  It shows some fight.   I’ll be more glad when they sign Vanek and then upgrade the D.  If they refuse to meet Vanek’s demands and he goes to free agency and signs elsewhere?  What then?

There are several possibilities that could have panned out regarding Moulson.  Moulson could have been traded near the deadline, signed before the deadline or signed after the season.    The bottom line, no matter how much he wanted to sign with the team, if they weren’t willing to give him the raise his numbers deserve, then they should have traded him before the deadline.  They did.  This doesn’t preclude them from signing him after the season, however, if they weren’t willing to pay him, and/or weren’t satisfied with his style of play, then it’s best for the team to get a return.  Even better that it is a star player in his prime.

The draft picks are interesting.  Since Buffalo is picking up a portion of Vanek’s salary this season, it makes sense that Isles sweeten the deal a bit, perhaps with the 2nd rounder?  The team is still budget minded and has a stockpile of young players in the wings.  They don’t need a second round pick.  To me, a second round pick is nearly worthless anyway.  I understand that you can get a good/great player in the second round.  Odds are against it.  That second rounder seems like it was for the money.  And I say – so be it.

The first rounder is another story.  If Moulson, as has been suggested, is worth a 1st rounder at the deadline, then the Isles have traded almost an entire season of Moulson, a first round pick coming from the future trade of Moulson at the deadline, their 2014 or 2015 first round and 2015 second round picks for an entire or partial season of Thomas Vanek.    If the Islanders can’t sell Vanek on staying with the team, then they can flip him near the deadline for a first rounder and likely a decent prospect as well.  In this scenario, the Islanders get nearly a full season of Vanek, a first rounder, and a top prospect.  If they allow another team to negotiate a contract with him during the season, they could net more.  Perhaps a second round pick?  I think you see where this is going.

Scenario:

Buffalo gets:

Moulson until trade deadline

First rounder from another team in a trade for Moulson

2014 or 2015 first rounder from Isles

2015 second rounder from Isles

Islanders get:

Vanek until trade deadline

first round pick from a contender

top prospect from a contender

second round pick from a contender for getting a contract with Vanek signed

Sure, a lot of this is conjecture at this point, but it is all reasonable.  Whether they re-sign Vanek or not, the team didn’t get royally screwed in this one, and could end up near where they would have been if they traded Moulson before the deadline. If it pans out and they sign Vanek, it’s a steal.  Moulson was gone anyway, and very small chance any of those draft picks becomes Vanek level in the NHL.

And like I said, they still have the opportunity to resign Moulson if he doesn’t sign elsewhere.  *cough *cough

 

 
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Who gets the credit for this team?

Who gets the credit for this team? Here’s a quick list. Missing tons I know. Just trying to frame things a bit.

Charles Wang: First in command, sets the deck the GM is forced to play from. Every dollar spent or not spent comes from him.

Garth Snow: Extremely limited budget for signing strong free agents in their prime, lady luck shines in 2012-2013 as he uses waiver wire to secure 4 players in the week before the season started, allowing some high draft picks to mature. Older home grown players starting to mature – Bailey, Hamonic, Martin. He’s had a bunch of bad pickups in the past (Rolston, Pandolpho, Jurcina, Eaton, Mottau, etc…). No more DP. Reasoner finally sitting. The team is finally doing the right thing for the team, and the players have responded.

Coach Jack: Had a good run at the end of the 2010-2011 season when they were all but eliminated. Their winless stretch in November that season cost Scott Gordon his job. The team gelled for the final third of this year, catapulting them into the playoffs. On ice dollar for on ice dollar, he’s taken a team that was projected to be a lottery team into contention for 5th place in the conference.

The Players: Despite the team on ice payroll, they’ve stepped up and had a hell of a final third of this season.

My take: All but Wang deserve partial credit. Despite his financial mandate, the players deserve a lot of credit for getting the job done, and you have to give Capuano the most credit. If this team failed it would be accepted that he wasn’t given a strong hand, but this team has not failed. He’d be the one getting the axe, just like Gordon before them if they were terrible so he deserves the praise for the team’s play. I can’t tell if Garth Snow, with his hands tied, has been lucky or deft. Either way, they are going to the playoffs. Cheapo or not the team will be fighting for the Stanley Cup.

 
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Séries éliminatoires de la Coupe Stanley

If your like me, you’ve found yourself checking the standings all day long, pondering the possibilities of a 6th place finish for the Islanders. It’s been a long time coming, and it’s exciting to get a chance to see these players earn a playoff birth and see what they are capable of in NHL playoff hockey.

I believe the reason of the team’s current success and consequent tear into the playoffs can be attributed to these three guys: Matt Martin, Casey Cizikas, and Colin McDonald. When they teamed up to be the teams third line, they hit and provided the secondary scoring the team needed for so long. The team started winning, and the 2nd line started to gel as well (Bailey, Nielsen, Okposo). It’s amazing what some good competition will do. Taking DiPietro and Marty reasoner out of the lineup were significant steps to the recent success as well. The team didn’t do anything at the trade deadline, but these additions by subtractions were important.

Now it’s up to the team to play well and secure the 6th playoff spot. You’ve got to prefer the Caps in the first round, but they’ve been on fire too. There is never an easy way to the cup.

 
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10 More Games to Go

The team is in heart attack mode.  It’s a mad dash to the finish line and, although the team has played more games than most others in the hunt for the final two playoff spots, they are right in the thick of things for the first time in the John Tavares era.  Speaking of JT, where is he these days?  I know he is still scoring goals, but he needs to be more visible.  Matt Moulson and Brad Boyes could also use something to get them going.  Even with some help these days, the Isles will go the way the first line goes.

Unfair:

Southeast division is looking like the top team is going to get a bonus, that being allowed to play in the NHL playoffs even if they have less points than the real 8 seed, like they do right now.  BTW, Isles would be in 6th if not for this injustice.  Glad to hear they are doing away with it.  The new format is as follows:

 

The top three teams in each division will make up the first 12 teams in the playoffs. The remaining four spots will be filled by the next two highest-placed finishers in each conference, based on regular-season points and regardless of division. It will be possible, then, for one division to send five teams to the postseason while the other sends three.

The seeding of the wild-card teams within each divisional playoff will be determined on the basis of regular-season points. The division winner with the most points in the conference will be matched against the wild-card team with the fewest points; the division winner with the second-most points in the conference will play the wild-card team with the second fewest points.

Nabokov is playing very well again.  Isles need him to stay strong to end well.

How many more points out of the remaining 10 games does the team need to get into the playoffs?  12? 13? 14?  My hunch is 14 points will get them in.  14/20 that is.

 
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Win over Caps, .500, other notes

I took my daughter, wife, and uncle to the game today, my first game of the lockout season.  It was a great day at the coliseum and was full of youngsters for the afternoon start.  Happily, the team didn’t lay an egg like it did on President’ day (7-0 L, Flyers) and treated the fans to a close game.   That is, until they blew the game wide open in the second half of the third period.   The team is still struggling for consistency, but they’ve really come a long way since their 5 game losing streak.  They’ve reached .500 for the season, and that is a good stepping stone   They’re relevant in the playoff race.  Not exactly where you prefer them to be (out but looking in), but better than fighting for lottery pics.

They’re showing more consistent offense, and from different lines which is great.  JT can’t do everything.  That being said, their defense has taken a drop.  Certain players (Tavares, Boyes, Moulson, Okposo, Grabner, Nielsen, etc..) still don’t do more than stick check.  Making the playoffs will be one thing, but winning games and series’ requires physical play.  Martin, Cizikas, and McDonald are becoming a great line as they chip in occasionally with a goal, but always with the body checks.  In my opinion, that line is the reason for their latest surge.  They’re inspiring everyone from the fans to the players.  They need to add to the chippy play and play with a set, stand up for teammates, and fight for their careers.

Here’s looking forward to a physical game in Pittsburgh tomorrow night.  They will need it to break the Penguins.

 

 
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Untitled

Trying hard and giving effort are important.  It is more than important on Long Island, as the team doesn’t invest in established talent and has been going with low level aging UFA’s and younger, cheaper players.   The Islanders don’t stand much of a chance unless their effort level is 100%.

Effort is expected and required when you are a professional and pulling down hundreds of thousands of dollars.  You have to expect your team give a good effort.  The Islanders have been called out in several games this year by their coach as being passengers and not putting forth the effort.  Is it the coach’s job to get that effort from his players?  He’s walking a fine line there because many assume it’s a reflection of the coaching staff when the team plays poorly.  Is Coach Jack throwing himself under the bus?

The team needs something to change, someway to ensure effort and bring the skill/leadership level up.  Thet’re  still close to a playoff birth, but they have not shown the maturity that can hold leads or sustain their effort with a 60 minute game.  They need to figure it out soon, or it will be another year of pressure free spring hockey to pad stats.  I’m not looking forward to anything now except change.  Running the status quo is not working, and the fans deserve something…

 
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Don’t Look Back

From the opening shift of the 7-0 blowout to the Flyers, the team didn’t have it.  In what unfortunately is becoming standard form, Moulson lost his man (Giroux) on the back-check and Giroux scored.  To sum things up, I feel, regretfully,  like I lost 2 hours of my life.  It’s the kind of loss where as a fan you feel like the team owes you something afterwards.  It also begs the question – Where was the motivation?.. Where was the tongue lashing between periods by the next in line Doug Weight?

The team pulled no rabbits out of their hats, nor goals out of their —es.  Don’t look now, but luckily there won’t be much time to sulk about this one.  Put up a good effort and a win and this will be the benchmark of how low the team can go.  Start a new losing streak and it will start an avalanche of destruction and will likely claim several victims.  I know I already feel like a victim…  Games like the last are just unwatchable.  I feel for the full house that had to watch the team lay an egg in front of all of those young fans…

 
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JT Bombs Crush Devils 5 – 1

The main story of the game was John Tavares netting his 4th career hat trick to propel the Islanders to their second consecutive win against a divisional opponent.  The sub plot was “Moose” Hedberg standing on his head again in net for the first period and a half.  I was concerned the Isles would never figure him out when the walls came crashing down and the Isles had 3 goals on the board by the end of the second period.

I had some thoughts while watching the game:

JT is our offensive savior, but he still needs to work on his D and turnovers, specifically leaving the D zone and entering the offensive zone.  .  He probably feels he needs to do it all himself.  If he can polish his D game more he’s going to be unstoppable.

Hits, or no hits?  The team has quite a few players on offense and defense that don’t take the body.  There are several players on the team that refuse to even check their coats at restaurants.  Matt Moulson and Michael Grabner stand out somewhat, but only because they don’t hit much but can still produce.  Moulson is sitting at 10th in the league in scoring, and Grabner has more breakaway chances then anyone else while PK’ing well.  It’s hard to argue with production, but if you’ve ever watched playoff hockey (I know, I know Isles fans) you’d realize that everyone finished their checks.  It’s just hard to believe that players will all of the sudden just abandon their game to start hitting.  The changes need to happen before.  Only then will the Isles have success.  Cappy seems to agree.

The coash has been giving the Isles 4th line valuable ice time because they hustle, hit, and even pitch in a point here and there.  Martin, Cizikas, and McDonald have been proving that following through with the hits can change the game.  It wears down the opposing team, and creates more space for everyone.  You can’t win with grinders alone, but if all players grinded a bit more, this team could play at a higher level.  Remember Pittsburgh?  That should be the rallying cry.

 
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Shuffling

2 points is still 2 points, but I think we all know that a shootout win is not the same as an overtime win is not the same as a regulation win.  Perhaps I’m upset with the system here.  There are better ways to allot the points for all of these scenarios.  That being said, the Islanders pulled the 2 points out of their hat vs. the Rangers.  It felt good watching a goalie play us and have an off game.

Too often the team makes goalies look like the second coming of Patrick Roy.  Now, having said that, The team plays the Devils today, where Johan “Ken Dryden” Hedberg will be manning the pipes, fresh off a shutout in his last game vs. the Isles.  The Devils play a boring game, so hope the Islanders do all of two things, either score or hit or fight.  I know that’s three things.  They’ll need to do all three to make me happy.  They don’t need to be in that order either.

 
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Cookie Cutter Season

Hot start, optimism abound.  short lived.  Enter losing streak.  Extended bad luck.  Bad calls.  et al.  ad nauseum.

Isles fans optimism from early in the season had taken a distinct turn into chicken little, sky is falling territory.  A 5 game losing streak in a 48 game season will do that to the fans though.   Any early season kudos for a great start have been erased, and fans are looking for answers.  More often than not, they are finding that their club has been taking the path of least financial resistance.  That’s not to say they can’t do anything to improve the team, but it’s unlikely.  The trade for Tim Thomas’ contract give them some flexibility to stay above the cap floor and cut some dead weight on the team, but alas, the track record of late is to spend little, get less.  Read BD Galloff’s article and you can see why optimism is tough right now for the fans.

 
 
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