Matt Moulson has been taken for granted throughout his career, but the Buffalo Sabres man deserves more credit.
Humble and Fred, Tegan and Sara and Tavares and Moulson once made up three of Canada’s most dynamic native duos. However, at the beginning of November, the New York Islanders split apart the two mighty Missasaugan hockey stars when they traded Matt Moulson to the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for Thomas Vanek.
Moulson scored a goal in three minutes of his Sabres debut, proving he could have a place in Buffalo’s future lineup. His current play is shattering the notion he’s only been a 30-plus-goal scorer because he rode shotgun beside Tavares.
Matt Moulson, Alone
Matt Moulson and John Tavares are best friends both on and off of the ice. They’ve known each other for over a decade, and Tavares is even godfather to Moulson’s daughter. The Islanders picked Tavares in the first round back in 2009 and signed Moulson as a free agent shortly thereafter. As a pair, they’ve been unstoppable. Moulson had his 30-plus goal seasons, and Tavares was a Hart Trophy finalist.
According to Tavares, Moulson has never gotten enough credit for his success.
Despite their similar numbers, Moulson doesn’t have the same skills as Vanek. Vanek has had two seasons with more than 40 goals and is what Islanders general manager Garth Snow describes as an “elite player.” Moulson expressed his disappointment to ESPN, noting that although he thought he’d demonstrated his desire to help the Islanders succeed, the front office obviously didn’t feel the same.
Snow, for his part, said he made the trade to shake the Islanders out of their inconsistent play. Although the Islanders’ main problem has been with defense due to Visnovsky and Strait both being out with injuries, Snow chose to take the scalpel to the offensive line. Moulson had an inkling something was in the works when the Islanders signed both Josh Bailey and Travis Hamonic but didn’t talk contract extension with him this past summer. Snow’s comments about Moulson have had a “He’s a nice guy, but …” tone. Time will tell how Vanek, even though he has a lot to offer, can integrate into the Islanders’ style of play.
Moulson the Playmaker
The Sabres shipped Vanek and one draft pick to the Islanders because Vanek’s contract comes up for renewal at the end of the year. While Vanek commands a US$6.4 million payday, Moulson is a bargain at US$3.13 million. Moulson’s future in Buffalo is all but certain since he, like Vanek, becomes an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. However, the Sabres would be smart to hang on to Moulson while they have the chance.
As the Sabres have discovered over the past few weeks, Matt Moulson makes plays happen. He’s sparked the talents of Cody Hodgson and Tyler Ennis, and together they have formed an amount of chemistry that Vanek never quite catalyzed. Moulson also delivers speed, creating more odd man rushes, and hurriedly backchecks to support the defense after offensive plays.
The Sabres have played four games with Moulson now and have scored three power-play goals. Of course, Moulson’s playmaking vision is the key, but so is his calm demeanor in the clutch. Moulson is a go-to player in a shootout, which he’s proven time and again throughout his career.
Buffalo Needs Moulson
Matt Moulson has been taken for granted throughout his career. The Penguins drafted him, but they never signed him. Then, the Kings signed him but didn’t renew his contract. The Islanders brought him on board, but they didn’t give him a one-way deal. In fact, Moulson almost headed to arbitration before finally being resigned by the Islanders.
The Sabres have amassed a total of 17 first- and second-round draft picks covering the 2012-2015 seasons. While they’re going to stock up on young talent, they can’t forget the importance of veteran play. Since the Sabres have unloaded Vanek, they have some room to pay Moulson what he deserves when his contract comes up at the end of the season. He can offer both tangible and intangible contributions to the Sabres. Hopefully, Buffalo can appreciate what they’ve got in Matt Mouslon.
About the Author: Gareth Shore is a hockey enthusiast who enjoys betting on sports. He recommends comparing sports betting sites at www.canadasportsbetting.ca.