The New York Islanders traded Thomas Vanek to the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday for a second-round draft pick and forward prospect Sebastian Collberg.
Vanek is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent after the season. He turned down a contract extension from the Islanders last month because he appears intent on testing his market value when the free-agent signing period opens July 1.
"Right now my mind is just racing a little bit," Vanek told TSN. "... This is pretty fresh to me, but never say never."
The Islanders acquired Vanek in late October in a trade that sent Matt Moulson, a conditional first-round draft pick and a 2015 second-round draft pick to the Buffalo Sabres. Moulson reportedly was traded to the Minnesota Wild around the same time the news broke on Vanek's trade to the Canadiens.
"I played a lot there with Buffalo; it's electric city, great fans, great building, so I'm excited to join them," Vanek said of Montreal.
The Canadiens are second in the Atlantic Division with 75 points, eight behind the first-place Boston Bruins. Montreal is are 20th in the League in goals (2.48 per game) and 13th on the power play at 19.7 percent.
"As a coach, I’m really happy about Thomas Vanek to join our club," Michel Therrien said in Anaheim, where Montreal will play the Ducks. "He’s a right shooter, but he can play the left side, he can the right side, so this is a great addition for us, and he fills a need. He’s a goal-scorer and is always paying the price to score some goals."
Vanek had 17 goals and 27 assists for 44 points in 47 games with the Islanders. He had instant chemistry with John Tavares and Kyle Okposo as the three made up the Islanders' top line and one of the best forward lines in the NHL for a while.
The Islanders fell out of the Stanley Cup Playoff race last month, and Tavares sustained a season-ending knee injury playing for Canada in the 2014 Sochi Olympics. With Vanek turning down the contract extension last month, a trade out of Long Island seemed inevitable.
"I didn't really have a radar (where I would go) just because ... you see so many teams, and until you know from your own GM or from the opposite GM, you really don't know," Vanek said. "I tried staying out of it as much as I could, and in the end, that's where I ended up."