UNIONDALE NY - FEBRUARY 19: Matt Moulson #26 of the New York Islanders rolls on the ice celebrating his third period goal as PA Parenteau #15 of the Islanders skates over to him and Matt Greene #2 and goalie Jonathan Quick #32 look dejected in an NHL hockey game at the Nassau Coliseum on February 19 2011 in Uniondale New York. Islanders won 3-0. (Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)
That's us, by the way. "Obscurity."
[...] You can make a serious case that as far as value goes, both to his team and on the dollar, [Matt Moulson] is just as deserving [as John Tavares] of a spot in Ottawa over the last weekend of January. [...] Moulson is having a career season, averaging nearly a point per game. The 28-year-old left wing has 21 goals, nine behind league leader Steve Stamkos, but just three behind second-place Phil Kessel. [...] Moulson is currently on pace for 40. That would be quite a feat all things considered. [...] Moulson has been asked to do quite a bit and he’s responded in a manner befitting an All-Star selection, even if he ends up watching the festivities from home. He may be one of the best bargains in the NHL. General Manager Garth Snow signed the unknown Moulson to a one-year deal prior to the 2009-10 season and all he’s done since is score 82 goals and register 141 points in a little more than 200 games. And he’s now locked up on the Island through the end of 2014 at slightly more than $3 million per season. What’s admirable about Moulson, in addition to his uncanny knack for knowing where to be on the ice at all times ...
Which I pointed out more than once. (Also, I love the picture that goes with that link.)
and his great chemistry with Tavares, is the fact that he’s emerged as a leader on a team sorely in need of just that. He’s become a spokesman [...[ and has kept an upbeat attitude despite [the team's woes]. Moulson has become one of the better snipers in the NHL, but his most telling statistic is his plus-9 rating on a team with a minus-31 goal differential.
The knock on Moulson in his time with the Kings was that he didn't play "on both sides of the puck."
[...] Moulson has 10 multi-point games, including a four-goal effort against Dallas on Dec. 3 that earned him the NHL’s First Star of the Week. Moulson’s aforementioned chemistry with Tavares is off the charts. I’m not sure if they are completing each other’s sentences yet in interviews, but they certainly don’t need a GPS to find each other on the ice. [...]
Oh, how Kings fans long for a winger who can be this for Anze Kopitar. The list of left-wingers who have moved in and out of that slot is pretty long: Moulson, Teddy Purcell, Oscar Moller, Andrei Loktionov, Simon Gagne, Dustin Penner, Alex Frolov, Marco Strum, Ryan Smyth, Dwight King, Scott Parse, Brad Richardson, Mike Cammalleri, Patrick O'Sullivan...who am I forgetting? There are certainly a few names on that list that are playing above their pay grade as a first line LW, but there are also several pretty potent scorers. I am inclined to say that the only one Kopitar showed sustained chemistry with is Smyth; Smyth-Kopitar-Williams was the best line in the league for a few minutes, after all; but then I remember that when Murray moved Smyth and Williams to the second line, then that line took off.
Anyway, as I have mentioned in the past, it's possible that the failure to find an LW1 to have that "Moulson/Tavares" chemistry with Kopitar, is not the fault of the wingers.
Moulson’s impact is not just coming at even strength. Heading into Monday, the Islanders’ power play was at 19.3 percent, seventh in the NHL, and showing a consistency it hasn’t shown in ages. [...] Moulson leads the Isles with seven power-play goals, two more than Tavares and just three off the league lead, and has added six assists. [...] Moulson has become the co-face of the franchise’s new look. And while the results have yet to approach the promise, the Islanders are in many ways climbing that ladder toward respectability and beyond. [...Moulson] is entering his prime and, really, the sky is the limit on what he will end up being. If you couple his innate hockey sense and skills with Tavares’ sheer ability, and throw in a player like Okposo, who may now be ready to take on the comparisons to Jarome Iginla, you could end up with one of the NHL’s best lines. [...] Moulson, who we must remember was plucked from relative obscurity, is as much a driving force in this team’s development as any ballyhooed first-round draft pick you could care to mention.
By the way, I'm not blaming anyone for the loss of Moulson. Dean Lombardi made a choice, in the summer of 2009, between Teddy Purcell and Matt Moulson, and he chose Purcell. At the time, Lombardi had just traded for Ryan Smyth, which gave the Kings a left side of Smyth, Frolov, Purcell and Raitis Ivanans (don't get me started). So, unless you're advocating keeping Moulson in a bottom-six role on a Terry Murray team which had already ruled on Moulson's defensive chops, I don't think there's any way to decide to keep Moulson and then put him in a strictly defensive role. The next season, Frolov and Purcell were out, and Alexei Ponikarovsky and Kyle Clifford were in. And it's interesting to note that all three of Moulson, Purcell and Parse were Lombardi UFA signings out of the NCAA. The point being: no one drafted these guys. You can't blame Lombardi for letting Moulson and Purcell go without also giving him credit for signing them in the first place.
And though it's always painful to see one's cherished prospects flourish on someone else's team, it's pretty much a given that such players are most likely to get a chance to thrive on teams at the bottom of the standings. The Kings were (Smyth, Rob Scuderi...) upgrading and gearing up for being an actual playoff team, and have become that. Meanwhile, Moulson and Purcell are still on bottom-feeders in contention for the 2012 #1 overall pick.