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The Buffalo Sabres started their rebuilding project in earnest, dealing their best player to the New York Islanders for a first-line winger and two draft picks. Numbers Game breaks down the deal sending Thomas Vanek to the Islanders for Matt Moulson and picks. The Islanders Get: LW Thomas Vanek. Vanek, 29, is one of the most prolific goal-scorers in the league, having tallied 229 goals since 2006-2007, ranking fifth in the league behind Alex Ovechkin, Ilya Kovalchuk, Jarome Iginla and Dany Heatley over that span. Given the age and circumstances around the others in that group, Ovechkin would be the only one of those four that holds more current value as a goal-scorer. This season, Vanek has four goals, nine points and a minus-5 rating in 13 games, and the minus rating is relatively fitting to the lopsided puck possession stats when Vanek (or most of the Sabres) have been on the ice this season. Throughout his career, Vaneks puck possession numbers have been okay, but not outstanding, largely because the strength of his game is not carrying the puck and creating chances, its more about his finishing ability and what he can do when he gets the puck deep in the offensive zone. Even this season, with his most common linemates including Cody Hodgson, Steve Ott and Drew Stafford, Vanek is generating a career-high 3.85 shots per game, playing a career-high 18:37 per game, but hes scored on a career-low 8.0% of his shots, well below his career average of 15.1%, so if Vanek continues to get significant ice time with the Islanders and he can continue to generate shots at this rate, he could put up some big numbers by seasons end. Pro-rating his shots per game, combined with his career-shooting percentage in the 71 games the Islanders have remaining, would give Vanek 41 goals, in addition to the four he has already. Of course, Vanek may not score at his career rate or generate shots at the same rate that he has through 13 games with the Sabres this season, but if 45 goals is the upside based on those numbers, its certainly reasonable to expect 30-35 goals. In the last year of a contract that pays him nearly $7.143-million, Vanek will be an unrestricted free agent at seasons end. There has already been speculation that Vanek, who played collegiately at the University of Minnesota, wants to sign with the Minnesota Wild when that time comes. But thats well in the future. Vanek might find out he likes it on the Island, playing with John Tavares and fellow University of Minnesota alum Kyle Okposo. For whatever its worth, the Islanders also have another Austrian, Michael Grabner, on the roster. The opportunity to produce for a more competitive team and play with a fellow countryman wont have as much sway as the contract that Vanek gets offered as a free agent and that is where the Islanders are in a tricky spot. If they decide that Vanek is as good as advertised and they want to commit to him long-term, theyre going to be paying for whatever production he gives them after the age of 30, which means decline is going to be a major factor when it comes to a deal that is likely going to be in the neighbourhood of seven or eight years. Worse, if Vanek is productive this year, there will probably be other teams lined up to offer that long-term contract, because teams are easily seduced by goal-scorers and Vanek can score goals. While its definitely worth being aware of those scenarios, they are situations to be dealt with in the future. By adding Vanek, the Islanders give themselves a better shot at this years playoffs, perhaps feeling more aggressive in a weakened Metropolitan Division, and the chance to make a second straight playoff appearance would be progress for a franchise that hasnt made back-to-back playoff appearances since 2002-2003 and 2003-2004. If it all goes wrong and the Islanders fall out of playoff contention, they could still flip Vanek before the trade deadline to mitigate their loss of assets. The Sabres Get: LW Matt Moulson, a first-round pick in 2014 and second-round pick in 2015. Moulson, who turns 30 November 1, is a three-time 30-goal scorer, and ranks 10th with 118 goals since the start of the 2009-2010 season. The issue that pops up when evaluating Moulson is whether or not he can continue produce at a high level without John Tavares as his centre. Not surprisingly, Moulson fares better with Tavares than without, but its not a massive difference, so its fair to expect Moulson to be able to score if he plays alongside Cody Hodgson on the Sabres top line and gets regular work on the first power play unit. Its also worth noting that PA Parenteau had that same question lobbed in his direction when he left the Islanders as a free agent, but hes done just fine, scoring 50 points in 58 games with Colorado. If the Sabres give Moulson the ice time that was going to Vanek, that ought to provide an opportunity to challenge for his fourth career 30-goal season. Moulson already has six goals, nine points and a plus-3 rating through 11 games this season, but hes scoring on a career-high 21.4% of his shots thus far, a number that is notably higher than his career shooting percentage (14.0%), so some regression ought to be expected. For the Sabres purposes, though, if they can cajole some goal scoring out of Moulson, that could leave open the possibility of dealing Moulson, who will be an unrestricted free agent, before the trade deadline (and possibly much sooner) and netting another first-round pick, perhaps with a prospect or another pick. Adding that potential return for Moulson, to the picks that the Sabres received for Vanek, brings a return that would have been difficult to acquire from a single team, so there is reason to be optimistic about the total haul of assets being acquired. At the same time, this is a rebuilding job that is going to take some time because the Sabres, who are already the worst team in the league right now, are dealing away their best player. By the time those picks become productive NHLers, if they even become NHLers, Vanek and Moulson may be in the twilight of their careers. If a first-round pick from the Islanders falls in the 15-20 range, there is a better than even chance that the pick will be an NHL player, though highly unlikely that the pick would yield a star player. Add in a second-round pick that yields about a 30% chance of producing an NHL player and the Sabres ought to eventually have something to show for dealing Vanek, but thats small consolation to a team sitting at the bottom of the standings that just moved out their best scorer. Scott Cullen can be reached at and followed on Twitter at For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook. Chris Houston Jersey . The incident happened during Barcelonas 3-2 win at Villarreal on April 27th when Alves, who is black, picked up the banana thrown by 26-year-old David Campayo Lleo, bit off a piece and then discarded it. Ndamukong Suh Jersey . A CFL source told TSNs Matthew Scianitti that Smith will re-sign with the Toronto Argonauts. .m. Columbus, OH (Sports Network) - Seattle Sounders FC hopes to rebound from a mid-week loss at D.C. United when it travels to Columbus for a Major League Soccer clash with the Crew on Saturday. Barry Sanders Jersey . The 24-year-old piloted the No.06 Sprott Inc. Newman/Haas Racing entry to nine top-ten finishes, including three season-best fourth-place finishes, all on wildly different tracks - at Long Beach (street course), New Hampshire Motor Speedway (short oval) and Kentucky Speedway (1. Matthew Stafford Jersey . - Alex Gordon went from a bust to busting the bank.OTTAWA - Cody Cecis dream of playing for his hometown NHL team has been given new life. The defenceman was originally recalled by the Ottawa Senators out of necessity, but the 19-year-olds play through three games earned him the opportunity to prove he belongs in the NHL. The Senators announced Tuesday that Cecis status had gone from an emergency recall to a regular recall and say they will carry eight defencemen for the foreseeable future. "Hes played with good poise," said Senators coach Paul MacLean. "Its good to see in a young player that hes able to come in and play that way." The Ottawa native was the hometown hero Monday night, scoring the overtime winner in a 3-2 victory over the St. Louis Blues. "It was just a great feeling for everyone," Ceci said. "Im just happy getting the first one out of the way. It was a great night." Marc Methot, also from Ottawa, says hes been impressed with Cecis composure since he was recalled from the Binghamton Senators of the American Hockey League. "Hes handled himself so well," Methot said. "Were all real happy for him and hes a bright spot on this hockey club and in the future here." Ceci seems to have a knack for scoring big goals. His two goals with Binghamton this season were overtime winners and his first goal in the Ontario Hockey League was a game winner. But there is little doubt that his first in the NHL is most special. Being given the opportunity to stay in Ottawa is like an early birthday present for Ceci, who turns 20 on Saturday. "That was my goal coming here was that I wanted to make a good impression," Ceci said. "I was just trying to go out there and work my hardest and whatever happened, happened. From here on out I have to work hard to stay here." Ceci was paired with veteran Chris Phillips at Tuesdays practice. Phillips, a player Ceci grew up watching, says he has been impressed with the rookies game and has enjoyed playing with him. "Its good to see him step in and look like he certainly belongs," Phillips said. "Hes played weell.dddddddddddd Played with confidence and its a pleasure to watch." The Senators have had their share of struggles on the blue-line this season. Too often the defence has been guilty of poor decision-making, which has often resulted in bad goals. But like the rest of the team, it seems to be showing signs of improvement. "We were making mistakes that were costing goals and being strong in our own zone has to be our job first and foremost," Phillips said. "Were supposed to be the guys that are there if there are breakdowns and not the ones causing them. I think theres been a better awareness of that lately thats helped us out." As the teams veteran defenceman, Phillips has been asked to take on a greater leadership role with the younger blue-liners. "You try and say things here and there, but for the most part you want to go out and lead by example," Phillips said. "For me to raise my game and be more accountable makes it a lot easier for them to do that." Mondays win was one of the Senators better efforts of late, but MacLean says the real test is seeing whether or not his team can do it again. "Its another test for us in the same way that it has been all year long," MacLean said. "Do it once, but can you do it twice or more often than that now." The Senators have not won back-to-back games since November 5-9, when they won three straight. The Senators take on the New Jersey Devils on Wednesday. The Devils have had their own share of problems trying to find consistency, going 3-4-0 so far through December. Methot has missed the last three games due to the flu, and while the defenceman feels hes ready to play there is a chance he could sit out Wednesdays game. "Sometimes when you win games if it aint broke dont fix it or dont change it," said MacLean. "Were going to give everyone every consideration to be in the lineup for (Tuesdays) game." Notes: D Erik Karlsson and RW Bobby Ryan were given maintenance days and both are expected to play Wednesday. Robin Lehner will get the start. ' ' '
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