Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Moulson, Islanders avoid arbitration


The Islanders and Matt Moulson got it done, earlier today agreeing on a one year $2.45 million deal to avoid arbitration. After making the club as a roster invite, the 26 year-old former King who was close with rookie John Tavares formed solid chemistry- pacing the club with 30 goals and five game winners while playing all 82. Previously, the North York Ontario native got into only 29 over two seasons with Los Angeles.

Originally selected by Pittsburgh back in '03 ninth round (263rd overall), Moulson finally got the chance to show what he could do. In his first full season, he scored 30 while adding 18 assists totaling 48 points along with eight power play goals, which ranked third on the team behind Tavares (11) and Mark Streit (9). Only Kyle Okposo took more shots than Moulson (208), whose 14.4 shooting percentage also led the Islanders. Just a shade better than sophomore pivot Josh Bailey (14.3).

Rewarded for his surprise season which saw Moulson do plenty of dirty work in front, he'll have to prove it wasn't a fluke. The Isles certainly need the gritty left wing with a nose for the net to duplicate last season's success. With JT91 entering his second season, he'll need plenty of help from Okposo, who only converted 19 goals despite leading the club in SOG. More is expected from the Isles' former '06 first round pick (7th overall). Featuring a young nucleus that includes Bailey, Frans Nielsen, Blake Comeau and 2010 first rounder Nino Niederreiter, the Islanders will look to improve on the 214 goals they scored.

If Niederreiter is deemed ready, he may be able to help. However, the 17 year-old Swiss who doesn't turn 18 until September 8 is expected to return to the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL (Western Hockey League) for his second season. In Year One after coming over from HC Davos, he scored 36 goals and 24 assists for 60 points in 65 games while adding eight goals and eight helpers in the playoffs (13 GP). Impressive stuff from a player whose stock rose following a standout WJC in which he was named to the All-Star team.

While Islander fans track how Niederreiter and prospects Calvin de Haan, Travis Harmonic, Matt Donovan, Kirill Petrov plus 2010 picks Brock Nelson and Kirill Kabanov do in camp, it'll be up to Moulson, Streit, Dwayne Roloson and Trent Hunter to provide strong leadership on a rebuilding club that hopes to improve.

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