Canadiens acquire Thomas Vanek ahead of playoff push

Former New York Islanders left wing Thomas Vanek (26) skates with the puck as Detroit Red Wings...

Former New York Islanders left wing Thomas Vanek (26) skates with the puck as Detroit Red Wings defenceman Brendan Smith (2) falls to the ice in the third period at Joe Louis Arena earlier this season. (Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports)

MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 4:47 PM ET

As minutes whittled down to seconds on Wednesday’s 3 p.m. EST. NHL trade deadline, the Montreal Canadiens delivered a stunning bleu-blance-rouge bombshell, one that could be heard all around la belle province.

Not to mention the rest of the hockey world.

In a blockbuster move that showed the Habs are focused on making a serious Stanley Cup run this spring, the Canadiens acquired sniper Thomas Vanek from the New York Islanders for prospect Sebastian Collberg and a second-round draft pick.

Vanek immediately adds some much needed punch to a Canadiens team that has relied far too much on its blueline for offence - specifically, defencemen P.K. Subban and Andrei Markov.

Vanek is an unrestricted free agent this summer and noted after the trade Wednesday afternoon that he hasn’t even pondered the possibility of signing a long-term deal with the Canadiens. As a result, his acquisition obviously reflects the message from general manager Marc Bergevin that the time for the Habs to win is now.

Vanek, 30, was traded to the Islanders from the Buffalo Sabres for forward Matt Moulson, a conditional first round draft pick and a 2015 second round draft pick earlier this season. He reportedly turned down a “substantial” contract offer from the Islanders in early February, one reportedly in the seven-year, $50 million range, the same as what he is earning now.

In 60 games with the Islanders and Sabres this season, Vanek has scored 21 goals and 32 assists. In his career, Vanek has scored 271 goals and 270 assists in 645 career games with the Sabres and Islanders.

Collberg, 20, was selected in the second round (33rd overall) of the 2012 NHL Draft by the Canadiens. In 40 games with Frolunda of the Swedish Elite League, he has scored three goals and added six assists.

Asked for his reaction concerning the deal, Vanek replied: “It was a nerve-wracking day.”

As for Moulson, he and Cody McCormick were sent by the Sabres to the Minnesota Wild in exchange for Torrey Mitchell and draft picks on Wednesday.

Moulson, 30, has appeared in 55 games between the Sabres and New York Islanders this season, scoring 17 goals and 21 assists.

The injury-ravaged Detroit Red Wing also got into the last-minute trade game, acquiring David Legwand in exchange for forward Patrick Eaves, a prospect and a third-round draft pick.

Legwand, 33, has appeared in 62 games with the Predators this season, scoring 10 goals and adding 30 assists.

Legwand will help the Wings. Moulson will add pop to the Wild offence.

But when all was said and done, the Habs fired one of the loudest shots on trade deadline day by trading for Vanek.

mike.zeisberger@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/zeisberger


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