It is safe to say that the New York Islanders are a vastly improved hockey club. Led by team captain John Tavares, the Islanders are starting to put the NHL on notice that they are close to being serious contenders out of the Eastern Conference. But Tavares can’t do it all by himself. He has a solid supporting cast. One of those guys has been a very underrated and largely overlooked force in this league. I’m talking about Tavares’ running buddy and linemate, Matt Moulson.
Moulson was sort of a a low-risk, take-a-chance-on-him free agent signing by the Islanders back in 2009. Ever since that first year with the team, Moulson has been enjoying awesome seasons. He has scored 30 or more goals in three straight years — the streak was stopped last year because of the lockout — and has 113 goals and 215 points since joining the Islanders. In fact, Moulson’s 97 goals from 2009-12 were the most by an Islanders player in a three-year span since Ziggy Palffy scored 115 from 1996-99. So you can see just how big of an impact he has had on the team.
Now the big question is how much is he really worth to the franchise? Moulson and Tavares have been playing on the same line since the beginning. They are about as inseparable on a line as the Sedin Twins are to the Vancouver Canucks. Those two guys have been money together since being paired up, but it does leave one to wonder why Moulson is making a little less than Tavares.
I know Tavares is the better all-around player of the two. I still think Moulson is a little underpaid given what his stats would indicate. Right now Moulson is making about $3.2 million this season, the last one on his current contract. Now I really don’t think Moulson is going to be making over $5 million a season, just like Tavares. I do think, however, that if the Islanders want to keep him long term, they are going to have to at least give him some sort of pay raise. There have been guys who have also gotten new contracts lately, that haven’t quite been as consistent as Moulson, that have received good deals. Based on market trends, and also on Moulson’s past performances, he will get the nice new contract he deserves.
Islanders general manager Garth Snow has said that the team does intend to try and re-sign Moulson to a new deal. Thus far, no new contract talks have started between the team and Moulson.
If the Islanders are smart, they will spend time during the season to try and get Moulson signed. If they can’t get him signed, they are losing one of their best players, and for the Islanders to have long term success, Moulson needs to be back in the mix of core guys on this hockey club.
What do you think?