There was a shakeup in the Atlantic and Metropolitan Divisions last night as the NHL’s first big trade of the season happened.
The Buffalo Sabres are now clearly aiming for the first-overall pick as they have dealt away one of their captains, Thomas Vanek, to the New York Islanders for Matt Moulson, a 2014 first-round draft pick and a 2015 second-round draft pick.
The Islanders are clearly going for it this season as they are adding a talent that could very much benefit playing with John Tavares. Also, giving up first- and second-round picks shows that the Islanders think they are a consistent playoff team. The question is whether or not they’ll be able to re-sign him before he reaches unrestricted free agency this summer.
Moulson probably won’t be in Buffalo for long. As a fellow UFA this summer, it is very likely that the Sabres will trade him before the deadline for more draft picks.
So what does this mean for the Leafs? Well, Buffalo could be seen as an easy opponent to face, but if a team takes it easy against them there could be trouble. With a back-to-back with the Sabres scheduled for November 15th and 16th, the Leafs are in position to take advantage of those games.
When the Leafs face the Islanders, it will be a different story. They will now be an even more offensive team with Vanek on board. Vanek might not be an elite NHL talent, but playing with Tavares will make him much better.
All in all, the Leafs will need to prepare for both teams the same: like they are the better team and can beat anybody. However, the Sabres are now a team that the Leafs need to take advantage of and the Islanders are a team to be wary of.