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Numbers Game: Sabres bring back Moulson

Scott Cullen
7/3/2014 3:45:57 PM
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The Buffalo Sabres liked Matt Moulson so much, after he played 44 games for them last season, that they brought him back as a prize free agent this summer.

Numbers Game looks at the Sabres bringing in a veteran winger to help their rebuilding plan.

The Sabres Get: LW Matt Moulson.

Moulson is a 30-year-old winger who was a three-time 30-goal scorer while skating on John Tavares' wing, yet there are signs of decline creeping in.

While he scored 23 goals and 51 points in 75 games last season, Moulson's shots on goal per game was down to 2.35, after a career-best 3.28 shots on goal per game in 2012-2013. He had three points in 10 playoff games before oblique and groin injuries knocked him out of the lineup.

Over the course of his career, Moulson has been a mediocre possession player, which has generally meant good relative numbers while playing for bad teams,

Going back to Buffalo, where he had 11 goals and 29 points in 44 games last season, Moulson should be looking at prime ice time, playing first line and power play, because he's one of the few on the roster that has been a consistent goal-scorer in the NHL.

Given the supporting cast, it will be tough for Moulson to get back to the 30-goal level that was becoming customary with the Islanders, but the Sabres scored a league-low 1.83 goals per game last season, so any offensive contribution will be welcomed.

There's also a decent chance that, by the end of this five-year, $25-million deal, the Sabres won't be thrilled about the production they are getting from Moulson, as his goal-scoring production is likely to decline as he heads towards his mid-thirties, but what's the real downside?

The Sabres are probably a bad team for at least a couple more years and if the supporting cast gets better, as it should, then maybe Moulson can still produce secondary offence as the Sabres eventually become more competitive.

In the short-term, the next couple of seasons, if Moulson could hit for 25 goals and 50 points per season, then that would have to be considered very successful.

The Wild made up for the loss of Moulson by signing free agent Thomas Vanek who, coincidentally enough, was traded for Moulson last season.

Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.




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