Michael Russo has covered the National Hockey League since 1995. He has covered the Minnesota Wild for the Star Tribune since 2005, after 10 years of covering the Florida Panthers for the Sun-Sentinel. He uses “Russo’s Rants” to feed a wide-ranging hockey-centric discussion with readers, and can be heard weekly on KFAN (100.3 FM) radio and seen weekly on Fox Sports North.

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My instant thoughts on tonight's Thomas Vanek trade to the Islanders

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild news Updated: October 27, 2013 - 8:53 PM

The Buffalo Sabres traded Thomas Vanek to "my Islanders" tonight for three-time 30-goal scorer Matt Moulson, a 2014 first-round pick and a 2015 second-round pick.

This was highly predictable because we know Garth Snow loves himself them Gophers!

Like last year's Jason Pominville's trade to the Wild, real nice return by Sabres GM Darcy Regier for a guy who already had one foot out of town as a free agent next summer. Regier will probably try to extend Moulson, but if not, he'll be able to parlay Moulson into more assets by season's end because he too is a pending free agent.

Very bold move by Islanders GM Garth Snow for a potential rental. Vanek's agent Steve Bartlett confirms there have been no talks of a contract extension between Vanek and the Islanders.

But Snow is not happy where the Islanders are in the standings, sees a team that should make some noise in that division and I'm guessing knew that with so few teams having the salary-cap space to pick up Vanek this early in the season, the time was right for the lowest-payroll team in the league to make the move.

I see on Twitter where Snow is getting blindly bashed for the high price he gave up. It's always easy to look at a trade, see the names run across the ticker and make an instant analysis like it's some fantasy trade without context.

You need to walk in that team's shoes to know how they value those pieces and why they make a trade.

We can analyze all we want the many assets Regier got for Pominville. He did a good job getting Johan Larsson, Matt Hackett, a first and a second.

But if you're in Chuck Fletcher's shoes, the Wild was leading the Northwest Division at the time of last year's trade and also needed to make the playoffs after a four-year absence. And you knew when Fletcher made that deal that in his mind he would extend Pominville.

But most of all, in Fletcher's eyes, the price was worth paying because he still has so many young forward prospects in the organization and only so many can end up playing here. There's only 12 forward spots, six defensemen spots and one goalie that plays on a nightly basis. Some of those spots in Minnesota are locked in for years, like Parise, Koivu, Suter and when he made the decision, he knew eventually Pominville. So in Fletcher's mind, the Wild could afford to give up Larsson, to give up Hackett with Darcy Kuemper and Johan Gustafsson developing.

Similarly, the Islanders have a bunch of prospects and young guys in the organization, so Snow clearly feels this is a price the Islanders can afford to make.

So when you're on the outside, before analyzing a trade just blindly by looking at the package, you need to consider that team's situation, their window and most of all their organizational depth chart/reserve list.

Just my opinion.

Don't cancel #Vanekwatch to Minnesota just yet. I'd still be surprised if Vanek doesn't test the market, although obviously a lot can change between now and next summer. Maybe the Islanders go on a run, maybe the Islanders sell their future to him, maybe they throw the Federal Reserve at him.

And remember, as I've written and said a lot lately, while as of now I believe the Wild is interested in pursuing Vanek next summer and while I have zero doubt that if that were to happen Vanek would sign here, the Wild may analyze the situation in the months ahead and decide that money they'll have available next summer could be better spent elsewhere.

If it looks like Charlie Coyle or Nino Niederreiter or Mikael Granlund or its other kids are going to develop into the scorers this team so needs, if it looks like some of these kids (Jonas Brodin, Coyle, el Nino, Granlund) are going to break the bank on their second contracts, maybe the Wild pursues a goalie next summer if that's the need. Maybe it pursues a physical defenseman. Only time will tell. It's a long time between Oct. 27 and July 1, so things change.

Between the kids mentioned above and Erik Haula, Jason Zucker, Raphael Bussieres, Brett Bulmer, Zack Phillips, whoever, one would hope a few of them develop into a top scorer. So maybe the Wild decides its too big a risk to lock another 30-something forward into a long-term, lucrative contract and thus block its promising young forwards.

We will see.

Lastly, if you're a Wild fan frantically tweeting me, Thomas Vanek was always going to be traded somewhere this season, and it was never going to be to the Wild. I feel I've made that clear 50 times. The Wild was never going to trade more assets to Buffalo for somebody it could potentially just sign next summer. The only surprise today is not that Vanek was traded, but how early in the season he did get traded.

Talk to ya Monday. Again, I'll be on Fox Sports North during the first intermission and on XM Radio at 8:45 a.m.

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