Buffalo, NY, United States (4E Sports) – Left wing Thomas Vanek is excited to begin a new chapter in his career after he was traded by the Buffalo Sabres to the New York Islanders for Matt Moulson, a first-round pick at the 2014 Draft and a second-round selection in 2015.
Vanek, a two-time 40-goal scorer, arrived at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum Monday morning for practice. The 29-year-old will make his Islanders debut Tuesday night against the New York Rangers at the Coliseum.
“It’s been a long 14 hours, or whatever it is,” Vanek told reporters after participating in his first practice with his new teammates. “It’s obviously a shock. I’m not surprised. I knew it was going to happen sooner or later with the situation in Buffalo. Obviously when it does happen, initially you’re shocked.”
“I’m excited to come here. They have a great, young team, up-tempo style. I’m looking forward to it,” added Vanek, who has 254 goals and 243 assists in 598 games for the Sabres.
As expected, Islanders coach Jack Capuano has placed Vanek on the top line with John Tavares and right wing Kyle Okposo.
“I’m just happy to be here right now, taking it all in,” Vanek said. “An opportunity like that doesn’t come around much, so I’m going try to make the most of it.”
Like Moulson, Vanek can become an unrestricted free agent after the season, which makes the deal a bit risky for the Islanders.
General manager Garth Snow said he has yet to have any discussions with Vanek’s agent to see if they’re willing to negotiate a new contract during the season.
Snow made the trade for Vanek after the team started the season with a 4-4-3 record.
“I think with the prospect pool that we have, and we’ve done an excellent job drafting, that it probably lessened the burden of moving a first-round pick and a second-round pick moving forward,” Snow said.