|Doing what he does best.|
As the New York Islanders finished signing their own players for the 2013-14 NHL Season, the clock begins ticking on those whose contracts expire next July 1. The Islanders have until the start of July to make a final decision on each of these players - most notably, Matt Moulson, the first Islanders' forward to score 30 goals in three-consecutive seasons since Zigmund Palffy recorded three-consecutive 40-goal seasons from 1995-96 to 1997-98.
Over the past four seasons, Matt Moulson and the New York Islanders have become synonymous terms. Moulson has built a career on Long Island through some of the team's toughest times. Based on his production and loyalty to the Isles, you wouldn't think re-signing a player of Matt Moulson's caliber would cause any bit of controversy. In today's salary cap era, however, not every Islanders' fan is positive that re-signing Matt Moulson will be what's best for the team going forward.
So, for today's Saturday Afternoon Discussion, I want to know what you would like the Islanders to do with Matt Moulson. I present my case after the jump.
Face it. Moulson's going to be 30-years-old when his next contract starts. After playing at a bargain price for his type of production ($3.13M), Moulson will also be looking for a major raise. Seeing that it could be his last opportunity to receive his big payday, Moulson will also be looking for the security of a long-term contract. I believe Moulson has earned all of this.
Can you feel comfortable with the Islanders giving him all of this, though?
I'm going to say this with the utmost respect to one of my favorite Islanders' in my life-long tenure as a fan. The Islanders must proceed with caution when entering contract discussions with one of the most under-the-radar goal scorers in the NHL.
For the better part of his four seasons, Moulson has been a spitting-definition of consistency. Not only has he been a 30-goal scorer during in each of his first three seasons, but he has improved on all of his totals year-after-year. In 2013, Moulson was on pace to shatter his careers-best assists-total (33), while playing the closest to a point-per-game pace (.94 PPG) during his time here.
Often overlooked is his ability to stay in the line-up. Moulson has played in 292 of the Islanders' 293 games since he joined the team. To have a player who can produce the way Moulson has without missing any time is an absolute gift to any team.
However, Moulson is often knocked as a one-dimensional player - one whose career relies on capitalizing on his chances in the dirty areas. Some see Moulson as a burden to the Islanders' first-line if he's not scoring goals, something he seemed to struggle with last season, despite potting 15 of them during the 48-game season.
After a hot-start that saw Moulson score 9 goals in his first 17 games of the season, Moulson's reputation as a finisher took a bit of a hit. Despite a multitude of chances, Moulson scored 6 goals over his final 30 games of the season, which included a 13-game goalless stretch in the middle of the season. Rather than finishing first on the team in goals scored, as he did over his first three campaigns as a member of the Islanders, Moulson finished third, and off-pace for a fourth consecutive 30-goal season.
Whether you think so or not, the 2013-14 season is going to be a huge one for Moulson. While his overall production was on a career-pace, Moulson's biggest asset (goal-scoring) was off. Do I expect this to continue? No, but because of the slump, I do think the Islanders should wait to begin negotiations until the fall, just to make sure.
With that all being said, I do believe our biggest concerns will be calmed. I think Moulson will score goals right out of the gate, and as a result, the Isles will (and should) re-sign Matt Moulson. He has proved to have enormous chemistry with one the Islanders' biggest star in over a decade, and both seem to be improving together year-after-year, creating one of the highest scoring tandems in the NHL of the past few seasons. Why fix what isn't broken?
At the end of the day, though, Matt Moulson is going to get paid. I would think 4 years, $20M is the MAX I would give him, however, it's going to be up to the Islanders to decide whether or not Moulson is worth the long-term investment.
What would you like to see the Islanders do with Matt Moulson?
I'm Chris Triants, and this is my blog.
Let's go Islanders!