The Islanders placed forward Sebastian Collberg on unconditional waivers Friday. Collberg was the cornerstone of the trade that sent Thomas Vanek to the Montreal Canadiens at the 2014 trade deadline. It would seem that this closes the book on the Vanek trade from the Islanders standpoint or does it?
Vanek was acquired from the Buffalo Sabres on October 29, 2013 for Matt Moulson, a first and second-round pick. Both Vanek and Moulson were set to become unrestricted free agents following the season. Vanek immediately formed a connection with John Tavares and Kyle Okposo. The trio, during their time together was the hottest line in hockey. Vanek had 17 goals and 44 points in 47 games with the Islanders.
Tavares tore his knee at the Olympics, and missed the remainder of the season. The team started their freefall. General manager Garth Snow attempted to re-sign him but he rejected a seven-year deal worth 50 million dollars. He had little choice but to trade the winger. Snow could not find a team willing to meet his demands. He went back to his safety team, the Montreal Canadiens who earlier in the day gave their “take it or leave it” offer of Collberg and a second-round pick. Collberg was playing in Sweden at the time of the trade. He came to North America at the start of the 2014-15 and played with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
The 22-year-old scored seven goals in 85 games over the past two seasons for Bridgeport. He will return to Europe to continue his professional career. Michael Fornabaio, who covers the Sound Tigers of the Connecticut Post said it best about Collberg.
So concludes two seasons where he showed lots of flashes of being that player everyone hoped for when the Big Club got him in the Thomas Vanek deal, most recently in the first two games of the playoffs. Those flashes were, unfortunately for all involved, separated by stretches of injuries and healthy scratches.
Vanek helped the Canadiens reach the 2014 Eastern Conference Final. He had five goals and five assists during their run.
The Islanders, once again attempted to re-sign Vanek that offseason, offering him a three-year deal worth 21.5 million dollars. He rejected their deal and signed a three-year deal worth $19.5 million dollars with the Minnesota Wild. Vanek cited the move to Brooklyn as a factor why he didn’t take the Isles offer. The 32-year-old scored 18 goals in 74 games this season, his lowest total in 11 NHL seasons.
The Islanders roster would look vastly different if Vanek accepted their offer. Forwards Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolay Kulemin would not be on the team.
The first-round pick that the Islanders sent to Buffalo in the deal was lottery protected. New York had the option to keep the pick in 2014 and give up their 2015 one. Snow did exactly that. The Islanders had the fifth overall pick in 2014 and selected Michael Dal Colle. The 19-year-old finished his junior career in April and joined the Sound Tigers for their playoff run. Dal Colle will compete for a roster spot with the big club in September.
The Sabres ended up getting the 21st overall pick from the Islanders in the 2015 Draft. Buffalo traded the pick to Ottawa for goaltender Robin Lehner. The Senators selected Colin White.
Remember the 2014 second-round pick the Isles also received from Montreal for Vanek? Snow used the his pick, the 35th overall and the one he received from the Habs, the 57th overall to move back into the first round and selected forward Joshua Ho-Sang. The prospect unfairly dealt with a lot of criticism prior to the draft. On talent alone, Ho-Sang was a top-five talent. Many teams did not even interview him prior to the draft due to his perceived attitude problems. One of those teams who interviewed Ho-Sang were the Islanders. Snow made the trade with Tampa to move up. Following the trade, Snow gave his now famous take on the pick.
Ho-Sang made headlines for all the wrong reasons as he overslept the first day of this year’s training camp. He was quickly demoted back to the OHL.
#Isles GM Garth Snow not mincing words about Josh Ho-Sang, telling Newsday: "Enough with the bull—-. It's time to grow up."
— Arthur Staple (@StapeAthletic) September 19, 2015
Ho-Sang responded with 82 points in 66 regular-season games for the Niagara IceDogs. One of the issues with Ho-Sang was his perceived selfishness. It’s hard to call someone selfish having 63 assists in 66 games. His 26 points (20 assists) in 17 playoff games helped the IceDogs to the Memorial Cup Final. Now that his junior career is over, he will likely set two alarm clocks plus get a wake-up call when training camp opens up in September.
While Sebastian Collberg will be just a footnote on this trade many years from now, the jury is still out on Joshua Ho-Sang.
Noel Fogelman is a 5-time Emmy Winner and started his career working on the Buffalo Sabres Pre and postgame shows for the Empire Sports Network. He then went to Bristol, CT to work at ESPN on NHL2Night and its coverage of the Stanley Cup. Follow me on Twiter @thefirstnoel19