Just over a week ago, the Buffalo Sabres shocked the hockey world and shipped out their best player and home Captain Thomas Vanek to the New York Islanders for a 1st round pick, a 2nd round pick and forward Matt Moulson. With Vanek’s contract expiring at the conclusion of the season, the Sabres had no choice but to trade away the Austrian sniper. Matt Moulson, just like Vanek, will become a UFA at seasons end. Moulson’s current cap hit is a friendly 3.13 million, with that number likely to increase come the offseason. Darcy Regier and the Buffalo Sabres must make the decision whether they believe Matt Moulson is part of the future or not. I will tell you why the Sabres must lock up Moulson as he should be a big part of their future.
Drafted in the 9th round in the illusive 2003 draft, it took Moulson some time before stepping into the NHL. Moulson attended Cornell University, where he played four seasons (2002-06). Following his career at Cornell, Moulson spent two seasons with the Manchester Monarchs in the AHL. It wasn’t until 2007-08 when Moulson made his NHL debut with the LA Kings, where he registered 9 points in 22 games. The next season for Moulson was mainly spent in the AHL, playing a handful of games with the Kings. However it was the 2009-10 season where Moulson would make a mark in the NHL. During the next three seasons, Moulson would record 30 plus goals, improving more and more each year. With almost a point per game in the lockout shortened season and another solid start to the new season, the Buffalo Sabres have a chance to lockup a top line player.
Standing at 6’1” and 205 lbs, Moulson has ideal size to be a top line player in the NHL. In four games with the Sabres, one of the bright spots of the team has been the play of the top line with Tyler Ennis and Cody Hodgson. Moulson has seemed to spark both Hodgson and Ennis, as the top line has new found chemistry; something that they were unable to find with Thomas Vanek. A big part of this lines success is the vision of Moulson. Playing on the left side, Moulson has shown the ability to make perfect tape to tape cross ice passes thus giving Buffalo a number of odd man rushes. Aside from his playmaking ability, Moulson has good speed and this really shows when he back checks. Moulson is often the first forward back in the defensive zone, supporting the D. A proven 30 goal scorer and a responsible defensive forward, Moulson can play a huge role as a veteran in the Sabres future.
Another huge asset with Moulson’s play is his role on the power play. In four games with Moulson in the lineup, the Sabres have tallied three PP goals, which is their best pace by far this season. When Moulson has possession of the puck, he has a calming presence and great vision to set up plays. Moulson has been the main reason to why the Sabres PP has had some recent success. When the shootout comes around, you can bet that Rolston will be calling out number 26. As Moulson displayed last night in San Jose, he can be a weapon when it comes to the shootout. Throughout his career, Moulson has been a clutch player when it comes to this. You can always expect Rolston to call his number when it comes time for a shootout.
Over the last couple of years, Darcy Regier has done an exceptional job at loading up on draft picks, as the team has a combined seventeen 1st and 2nd rounders between the years of 2012-15. It is time for the Sabres to keep a veteran that will help this team down the road. The Sabres will have a decent amount of cap room this offseason so there are no excuses for Regier to not lock up Moulson to a long term deal. Matt Moulson is a top line player in the NHL and a proven 30 plus goal scorer. Players like these don’t grow on trees, so the Buffalo Sabres must make the right move and attempt to resign Matt Moulson.