Trading Thomas Vanek is not a good idea.
Joking about it on Twitter is one thing, but actually advocating for it is a completely different pile of silliness. Trading Vanek away doesn’t bring the team closer to winning the Stanley Cup. It puts them in rebuilding mode, and that trade philosophy has no place in Buffalo with this team.
I try not to write about things I disagree with because directing attention to an idea like this is counterproductive. Bad ideas and thoughts should be allowed to disappear without ever being given proper time. When you poke the bear you only give that bear a spotlight.
I don’t have any desire to blow up bad columns and I’m not as funny as the Fire Joe Morgan guys. This “Trade Vanek” idea, though, gives us a good opportunity to consider the current state of the Buffalo Sabres. Simply put: The Sabres have never been a team that trades Thomas Vanek. The current reasons, though, are very different than what they once were.
Thomas Vanek does not have an unmanageable contract and is not going to be a free agent after this season. He is not (verbally) unhappy with coaching, management or ownership of the Buffalo Sabres. He is not unpopular with fans. The only real reason to trade Thomas Vanek is that he is a valuable hockey commodity that could be traded for other valuable hockey commodities. In fact, he’s the best hockey commodity they’ve had in some time.
But that’s not the kind of team this has to be anymore. On Sunday I had to explain to a Panthers beat writer why Brian Campbell was traded by the team. That kind of thing doesn’t absolutely have to happen to the Sabres anymore. They are a team that can swap an asset for more valuable assets. They are not, however, a team that needs to move its franchise player to maximize value in order to build a winner moving forward. The dawn of the Terry Pegula Era of Sabres hockey was supposed to signal an end to that kind of thing.
They don’t need to do this because they have an owner that will spend to the salary cap and is willing to be aggressive in free agency and trusts his general manager to draft good hockey players and build a good team. Thomas Vanek is a cornerstone of the franchise. He’s something to build around while he continues to produce. If they get it wrong, and it’s clear they were far from perfect this season, they can simply keep trying. There’s time.
The Buffalo Sabres are far from starting over. They currently have the best player in the league and an awful defense and no secondary scoring. The last two things there can be fixed with trades and getting new players into the system. They can be addressed by putting a new system–and head coach–in place. They can be addressed simply by the existing defense and players to perform better.
It is illogical, though, to throw away the only working part of your offense in a haphazard attempt to fix the other problems on the team. It’s the nose and face and knives and all that. It seems silly to even talk about, really. No team struggles and trades away its best player for a few draft picks and a blue-liner, and this Buffalo Sabres franchise is simply not in a position to break new ground on that front.
They just don’t have to, and the sooner we change the way we think about how the franchise needs to operate, the better.