This post is part of Buffalo Sabres day at PHT…
The 2015-16 campaign was not kind to veteran Sabres winger Matt Moulson.
Don’t believe us? Just check the headlines:
Yeah. Tough year.
A three-time 30-goal scorer, Moulson’s ability to find the back of the net abandoned him last year, finishing with just eight tallies in 81 games. That low output looks even worse when you consider the 32-year-old started the year reasonably well — three goals and five points in his first 10 games — before his production literally fell off a cliff.
Which brings us to the pressure point.
From a personal perspective, there’s no question Moulson’s feeling it. Sabres GM Tim Murray said the veteran was “very disappointed in himself” last season. It’s also probably hard for Moulson to ignore that, at $5 million annually through 2019, he’ll continually be defined by that contract, and the fact he’s Buffalo’s fifth highest-paid player.
There will be pressure coming from the organization as well.
Murray already threw down the gauntlet, suggesting that 1) Moulson’s fitness needs to improve and 2) a summer buyout was a possibility.
Head coach Dan Bylsma has also thrown down.
Making Moulson a healthy scratch last December didn’t seem to have much of an impact and, a month later, Bylsma bluntly said “I don’t like where [Moulson’s] game is at.”
Heading into the ’16-17 campaign, it’s clear the coach’s expectations for the group — Moulson included — have risen. This past July, Bylsma said the Sabres are stronger than last year, and suggested they “should be above 95 points at the end of the season.”
Disco Dan also said Buffalo would be deeper next season, which could be a major issue for Moulson. The addition of his former Isles running mate, Kyle Okposo, should give the Sabres another dimension up front, and it remains to be seen how youngsters knocking at the door — like Alex Nylander, Justin Bailey and Hudson Fasching — will work their way into the mix.
Add it all up, and Moulson could very well be looking at more time in the press box.