The Thomas Vanek-Matt Moulson trade is full of spin-off implications and possibilities, not the least of which is the ultimate destination of Vanek, whose future could depend on just how well his New York Islanders perform the rest of the season. The chemistry Vanek is able to create with dynamic centre John Tavares will be key.
If the newly formed duo, which makes its debut Tuesday night, fails to rack up points in a big way or go deep in the playoffs, the popular suspicion is that Vanek will be lured to Minnesota when he becomes an unrestricted free agent in July. It's the worst-kept secret in hockey: Vanek's ties to the Twin Cities run deep.
The winger won the 2003 NCAA championship as the most valuable member of the University of Minnesota Gophers; current Wild defenceman Keith Ballard was on that team as well; Vanek’s wife, Ashley, is a native of Minnesota; and his summer home is in the suburbs of Minneapolis-St. Paul. C'mon.
Add the fact the Wild have cap space and a need for a scoring winger (Dany Heatley, supposedly ready for a rebound season, has three points through 13 games) and an ownership group willing to chase and land big free agents (see: Suter, Parise), and it looks like a no-brainer.
But if the Isles go deep, Tavares sets up Vanek for 45 goals or something silly, and the Wild fail to make the playoffs... things could get complicated.