New York Islanders: Matt Moulson, Goal Scoring Anonymous
As a waiver wire pickup, he's scored more goals in the last two seasons than Henrik Zetterberg, Patrick Kane and Vincent Lecavalier.
He has never been selected to skate in the All-Star Game, the Olympics or the World Championships.
He's never been asked by Reebok or Gatorade to endorse sneakers and sports drinks.
He's not a household name, but he sure plays (and produces) like one.
He's Matt Moulson, one of the lesser-known scorers in the NHL. So much so, that one of the beat writers for the Vancouver Canucks misspelled his last name, constantly referring to him as Matt "Coulson," in a pre-game article.
After being dumped by the Los Angeles Kings last summer, Garth Snow and the Islanders took a chance on Moulson, a former ninth-round (they don't even have nine rounds anymore) draft pick of the Pittsburgh Penguins back in 2003.
Needless to say, he's been nothing short of a godsend for this team, netting 30 and 31 goals (respectively) in his first two seasons as an Islander and solidifying the top forward line by becoming the perfect winger for John Tavares.
Many "experts" felt that his strong performance in 2009-10 was a fluke and that surely, Matt Moulson would not repeat that accomplishment.
They could not know just how wrong they'd be.
Moulson has a nose for the net and a knack for getting himself into goalscoring situations. He always seems to be in the right place at just the right time.
Some people might say that's luck, but I think it's anything but that.
It takes skill and foresight to be able to get into scoring position on a consistent basis. Moulson will do whatever it takes to score, always driving hard to the net on every shift, always thinking of the next move.
He knows where the puck will end up before the first pass or shot fired in the offensive zone.
Since he knows how the play will develop, he makes sure to be on the receiving end. If there's going to be a rebound, you know Moulson will pounce on it. And if Tavares is going to pass the puck into the slot, Moulson's sitting their waiting.
That's not luck, that's intelligence.
As has become somewhat of a theme for Matt Moulson's hockey career, there will always be doubters and detractors. If his responses have served as any indication, the more anonymous and unheralded he is, the higher he raises his game.
I think there will be a point in time that people (other than Islanders fans) will finally realize just how talented Moulson is. And I also think, as the players surrounding him become more mature and developed and as the team continues to improve, Moulson will too.
Comments are welcome.
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