EDMONTON, Alberta - Garth Snow waited until the last possible minute to unload Thomas Vanek. What he got back from the Canadiens -- a conditional second-round pick and a young forward prospect -- seemed far below what the Islanders and their fans were hoping to get back for the scoring winger.
"It wasn't a very active market," Snow told Newsday Wednesday afternoon, shortly after the 3 p.m. ET deadline passed. There were certainly lots of players moved, but the Islanders' GM meant the offers were not pouring in for rentals like Vanek.
So just a few minutes after the deadline -- trades need only be reported to the league by 3 p.m., with word coming out after -- Snow sent Vanek to the Canadiens for that conditional pick and 20-year-old forward Sebastian Collberg, Montreal's 2012 second-rounder who is playing for Frolunda in his native Sweden.
"This was the best deal that was tabled," Snow said. "Getting a conditional second-round pick and Sebastian Collberg, a prospect who has top-six potential, was a pretty good return on a day like this."
Snow was seeking a first-round pick plus another asset to try and recoup some measure of what he sent the Sabres for Vanek on Oct. 27. Matt Moulson, the popular Islander, went to Buffalo that day, along with a conditional first-round pick and a 2015 second-round pick.
Moulson also was dealt right around the deadline Wednesday, going from the Sabres to the Wild for two second-round picks. The only first-round pick that was dealt yesterday went from the Rangers to the Lightning in the trade for Martin St. Louis, who is not a rental.
So Snow had to settle for the exchange with the Canadiens, in which the Islanders also surrendered a fifth-round pick. Should Montreal, which sits third in the Atlantic Division, miss the playoffs, neither draft pick changes hands.
Vanek and Andrew MacDonald (traded to the Flyers on Tuesday) brought back three draft picks and Collberg. Snow likely will opt to keep this June's first-round pick and send the team's 2015 first-rounder to the Sabres, leaving the Isles with a first, two seconds, a third and three fourth-round picks this year.
"We have some chips to play with at the draft," Snow said.
Wednesday marked the end of a rough two months for the Islanders, a segment that started with Vanek rejecting a seven-year, $50-million offer from Snow to stay and play alongside John Tavares. The Islanders sputtered into the Olympic break, all but assuring their sixth season without playoffs in the last seven. Then there was Tavares' season-ending knee injury while playing for Canada in Sochi, adding injury to the insult of another likely last-place finish.
Vanek expressed his disappointment before he departed Edmonton for Montreal, his third team this season.
"I expected a lot more out of all of us," he said. "Looking back, that line with me, Okie [Kyle Okposo] and Johnny, it was the best line I've ever been on. But you look at seven to eight games where we should have won and that's all the difference in the standings."