UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) — The New York Islanders acquired forward Thomas Vanek from the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday night for forward Matt Moulson, a first-round pick in 2014, and a second-round pick in 2015.
The 29-year-old Vanek, a former University of Minnesota star from Austria, had four goals and nine assists in 13 games this season for Buffalo. In nine seasons with Buffalo, he had 254 goals and 243 assists in 598 games.
Moulson, who will turn 30 next week, had six goals and three assists in 11 games this season. He has 124 goals and 109 assists in 333 games in seven seasons with the Los Angeles Kings and Islanders.
Both Vanek and Moulson can become unrestricted free agents after this season.
Vanek is being paid $6.4 million this season and carries a salary cap charge of $7.14 million. Moulson is earning $3.9 million and is expected to command more on the open market.
The Sabres were likely to lose Vanek in free agency after this season, the final year of a seven-year, $50 million deal the Sabres matched after Edmonton signed him to an offer sheet in July 2007.
Whether or not the Sabres re-sign Moulson, the draft picks they acquired from New York will help in a rebuilding plan for a team that is off to an NHL-worst 2-10-1 mark and 0-6-1 at home.
The process began in earnest last season when the Sabres traded three core veterans, including captain Jason Pominville, for draft picks and prospects.
"Matt will address our current needs and provide us with support, leadership, scoring," Sabres general manager Darcy Regier said. "With where our hockey club is, the first- and second-round picks are important.
"Whether we use the picks to select players at the draft or whether we use them to continue to improve the hockey club as we go forward through this season has yet to be determined, but that was the focus for this deal."
Buffalo has had two first-round picks in each of the past two drafts.
Veteran goalie Ryan Miller also is in the final year of his contract and is another candidate to be traded. Vanek has served as a co-captain this season, wearing the 'C' for home games.
"Like a lot of players he was shocked," Regier said about Vanek. "He was very professional. I thanked him. He was as good as he could be.
"It was a deal that was worked on and off for a while. It was something we felt we had to do."
Regier said he hasn't had recent trade talks regarding other potential free agents.
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