Since 2009, only seven players have scored 135 goals or more and as of today, only two have the potential to go to free agency.
One is Jarome Iginla — today’s UFA of the Day — who said he wants to return to Boston. The other?
Moulson, a three-time 30-goal scorer, could be on his way to July 1 after splitting last season between the Islanders, Sabres and Wild. Agent Wade Arnott told PHT on Thursday there’s “nothing to report regarding Matt and the Wild at this time,” which suggests the 30-year-old might be ready to go to market.
If so, it promises to be an interesting trip.
Last week, Oilers GM Craig MacTavish noted “‘it’s a good year to be a UFA.” The free agent market isn’t overly deep and in terms of goalscoring wingers, Moulson is competing with the likes of Iginla, Thomas Vanek and Mike Cammalleri at the top of the class.
That’s big for Moulson as he seeks what could be the biggest payday of his professional career. A former ninth-round pick — a round that doesn’t even exist anymore — Moulson never made more than $575,000 in a single season before his breakthrough 2009-10 effort, when he scored 30 goals and 48 points. That earned him a one-year, $2.45 million extension, followed by a three-year, $9.4 million pact the season following — good money, sure, but it’s crazy to think one of the NHL’s 10 best snipers over the last five years has never made more than $3.13 million in a single campaign.
That figures to change this summer, though the age-old question applies: Does Moulson want the payday, or a chance to compete for a Cup?
If it’s the former, he should have some options coming his way. The Nashville Predators have cap space and want to add offense (GM David Poile said he’d move his first-round pick in exchange for a top-six forward). The Islanders (approximately $27 million in space) could get back in the mix and reunite Moulson with his longtime running mate, captain John Tavares.
If it’s the latter — Moulson’s 31 in November and has just 16 career playoff games — what about Los Angeles? If the Kings can’t agree to terms with Marian Gaborik, who might’ve priced himself out following his stellar Stanley Cup playoff, they could circle back to a familiar face. L.A. gave Moulson his debut in 2007 and he spent plenty of time in AHL Manchester playing with the likes of Trevor Lewis, Slava Voynov, Alec Martinez and Jonathan Quick.
Lots of options, but one thing is for certain: Moulson probably knows his exact value and where he stands in this UFA class. It’s not a difficult thing to figure out — just ask Wild GM Chuck Fletcher.
“Players have to decide whether they want to come back and then if they want to come back,” Fletcher said, per the Star-Tribune. “Usually the market is somewhat transparent.”