(but, they should keep him)
Being fully aware of how Steve Bernier came into Buffalo and wowwed the fans during his first game, only to fall off the face of the earth and quickly leave Buffalo, I'm loving what Matt Moulson brought to the table in his first game.
And knowing full well that the Sabres could more than likely add to their bounty of first round picks if they decided to trade him, I wouldn't move Matt Moulson unless he can't be re-signed or unless the return is too good to pass up.
Unlike the former #26, Moulson plays a full 200' game from start to finish. Everyone in Buffalo noticed it, head coach Ron Rolston was raving about it.
And his linemates certainly responded to how he plays the game. Tyler Ennis got his first two assists of the season and Cody Hodgson had a little more pep than usual.
This is the type of player Sabres fans have been wanting for a while--a top-six forward, that's in constant motion, skating hard in all three zones for the entire game.
Matt Moulson has always played that way.
Also, how many times over the last two or three years, or even longer, have various Sabres said post-game that they had opportunities, but just couldn't finish? Including the former #26.
Moulson is a finisher.
Sure, he had John Tavares during those multiple 30-goal seasons. But Moulson finished the play. Tavares didn't pass him the puck, skate over to him and help him put the puck in the net.
Moulson buried those passes from Tavares. And as showed in his first game, he can finish no matter who's passing him the puck.
During the next few months Sabres fans will see just how much finish he has and whether or not he can do it consistently. They'll see what affect the 31 yr. old veteran has on the team.
But should he continue to play a 200' game at a 30-goal pace, is there any reason why the Sabres shouldn't attempt to re-sign him to a long-term contract?
There's absolutely no legitimate reason as to why they should not.
"Buffalo could add another first-round pick, maybe more if they traded Moulson," you might say. But the retort would be, how many more draft picks do the Sabres want to acquire before there are too many? They will need players. They need players with skill and will, players who are "un-core like." They will need veterans as well. Preferably vets who contribute consistently in a positive way, especially on the scoresheet. Moulson fits into that category.
Besides, Ryan Miller is on the block and he should land at least a first-rounder. If that's not enough, Christian Ehrhoff doesn't look like his "core-like" game fits into the future of "hard to play against." He's a trade possibility.
And there's also Tyler Myers as well. Methinks that Edmonton would seriously entertain Myers for a first-rounder. They've had plenty of those.
"The Sabres will need to overpay to keep Moulson," you say.
I say, "so what."
There's a salary cap and a salary floor. Buffalo can't ice a team of all rookies and fourth liners, they will need to pay someone.
The salary floor for next season will be somewhere around $45m. The Sabres are slated to have $35m tied up in 15 players.
They could conceivably drop $4m on Ott and $6m on Moulson (they won't, it's just an example,) and hit the cap floor with only six more players to sign. With the cap ceiling is slated to be somewhere around $67m, they will have plenty of room to do whatever they want to do. So overpayment really isn't an issue.
No matter what GM Darcy Regier decides to do with Moulson, the Sabres are in a win-win situation. If they decide to trade him, another first round pick (at least) is on the way.
If the Sabres decide to keep him and sign him long-term, which I hope they do, they'll have found themselves a finisher who plays a 200' game.
Pretty sure every Cup-winner had at least one player like that.