Last night, the Minnesota Wild traveled to Long Island to take on the New York Islanders. Fans in attendance saw a familiar face wearing a Wild sweater. Matt Moulson, currently on his third team this season, was making his return for the first time since Islanders GM Garth Snow traded him to the Buffalo Sabres for Thomas Vanek. Moulson was sent to Minnesota at the NHL trade deadline a few months later.
Moulson was quick to show his former fan base what they’ve been missing, scoring two goals and helping Minnesota rout New York to the tune of 6-0. The former Islander received plenty of cheers for both of his goals, but things got interesting after his second tally. A hearty chant was forming in the stands of the arena.
“We want Moulson! We Want Moulson!”
Knowing the Islanders are going to miss out on the postseason this year, the fans are obviously looking towards the summer. This chant was a message sent to Snow; fan-favorite Moulson is badly missed, and the GM should try as much as he can to resign him when the forward becomes a free agent this offseason.
From everything we’ve heard since Moulson was traded, I would suggest Islanders fans not hold their breath. It’s very doubtful the Canadian winger is going to be rejoining New York anytime soon.
Sure, it would make sense if Moulson went back to having John Tavares as his center, as the two developed incredible on-ice chemistry. Playing next to Tavares is one of the reasons Moulson became such an up-and-coming goal-scorer for the Islanders. He’s also passionately stated that he loved his time on Long Island. Why wouldn’t he want to come back?
Well, at least from Moulson’s perspective, it appeared the team wasn’t including the forward in their future plans to begin with. According to him, despite the fact that he was in the final year of his contract, no discussions were brought up by the front office regarding the idea of resigning him.
“It’s been said that I wasn’t in the future plans, so I don’t think that will quickly change,” Moulson told NHL.com. “At the time, I thought I’d be here for the rest of my career. We never had discussions about any future plans or anything. That kind of caught me off guard.”
Now, obviously we don’t know if the Islanders were just taking their sweet time, eventually planning on opening contract talks with Moulson. At the same time, he’d scored 30 or more goals in three of the last four seasons with New York, so why would there be any sort of delay from the front office if resigning him was on their to-do list?
Another concern Moulson must’ve had regarded the initial trade itself. Essentially, the Islanders swapped out Moulson, a talented winger and soon-to-be unrestricted free agent, for Vanek, a talented winger and soon-to-be free agent. New York dealt away a popular player for someone who plays the same exact position, is the same age and has comparable results across the past few seasons. At the same time, the Islanders had big holes at the blue line and in net, so why not at least try to address those needs? You can see why Moulson might be put off by something like this, being swapped out not because his trade helped improve areas of need, but because Snow apparently liked Vanek better.
Things could change, of course. Maybe Snow is willing to throw a ton of money at Moulson as an attempt to right a wrong. Perhaps Moulson has a change of heart at season’s end. Or maybe Snow gets ousted and that’s enough of a game-changer for the current Wild forward.
It’s all pretty unlikely, though. Chant all you want New York fans. Moulson may be wearing a different sweater when the puck drops next season, but it’s doubtful it’ll be an Islanders one.