So how does a 25-year-old fringe NHLer creep under everybody's radar to thrive in a plum role on a line with an up-and-coming superstar? And will Matt Moulson continue to thrive or is he destined to fizzle?
– Moulson will turn 26 in a couple of weeks.
– He has been a long-shot offensive prospect for several years, earning a spot on my Top Prospects template, but never getting higher than 135. He was never profiled in a DobberHockey Fantasy Prospects Report – another indication that he just hasn't been taken seriously.
– A dominant scorer in Junior B, a solid two-way producer in the ECAC, a point-per-game guy in the AHL.
– Has NHL size (6-1, 205).
– He has played practically every shift in the preseason and regular season with John Tavares, with an average ice time hanging around the 19-minute mark.
– Two of his four goals so far were not assisted by Tavares, although J.T. was on the ice. His stats are not strictly reliant on Tavares. (FYI, Moulson assisted on two of the three Tavares goals)
– Moulson has a plus-2 rating so far this campaign. That leads an Islanders' team with six players at minus-4 or worse.
– His salary is sweet – at $522,000 cap hit he's easily earning his salary. The Isles are nowhere near the cap, so his low salary is not as much of an advantage as it would be on other teams.
– He's averaging 4.3 shots per game. Coaches love to see that.
– His college and AHL career indicates that he doesn't get hurt. Very durable.
– He will need to go through waivers to be sent down. Given his start of seven points in six games, there will be some interest from other teams if it ever came to this.
– He was drafted 263rd overall in 2003. Players drafted later tend to see few opportunities and the coach feels less pressure to keep throwing him out there if he stumbles. A hot-shot first rounder will keep getting thrown out there on the top line no matter how much he messes up.