What’s Garth Snow thinking?

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What is Garth Snow thinking? That’s what a lot of people are still wondering after the Islanders’ general manager traded winger Matt Moulson, a first-round draft pick in 2014 and a 2015 second-round pick for Thomas Vanek, a 29-year-old sniper with an expiring contract who most assumed would be signing with Minnesota this summer.

“We had opportunity to acquire an elite player and given where we we are right now, you go for it.” Snow said.

“Thomas is an elite player in this league and he’ll help us now and in the future.”

Here are three more things he’s probably thinking:

1. I can sell Vanek on the Isles. We’re moving to Brooklyn soon, and that’s a pretty cool place to live, right? We’ll have a new rink with more ways to make money, and that means we’ll have more to spend on building a winner going forward. Not to mention, he’ll get to play with John Tavares, one of the best young centers in the NHL. All in all, I think that’s a pretty attractive proposal. And if that’s not good enough, I can do something Minnesota can’t — give Vanek eight years, one more than the Wild, or any other team, could. Remember that I’ve sold guys on this team before, like Evgeni Nabokov and Lubomir Visnovsky. They didn’t want to be here at first. I can do this again.

2. At the moment, this is the only way we can get top free agents. I need to get in their ear first, before the usual suspects like Philadelphia and Detroit do. I need to give myself an advantage. To make the first move. To be aggressive. Otherwise I’ve got no chance.

3. I can still trade him before the deadline. March 5 is a long way away. If we can’t get an extension done by then, I should still be able to get a first-round pick back. Maybe more. It won’t look great, but hopefully our fans will appreciate the willingness to take a risk and understand why we rolled the dice. We want to win. We’re ready to win. Which is hopefully what Vanek can see.