Matt Moulson showed signs of improvement last season, scoring 14 goals and 32 points -- a notable (if not particularly impressive) bounce back from his career-low 21 points in 2015-16 -- but he continues to be a huge disappointment in Buffalo. He has two years remaining on a five-year deal worth $5 million per season, but Moulson has averaged less than 12 minutes per contest over the past two seasons thanks to his inconsistent offense and poor conditioning, and he's even sat out some games as a healthy scratch. As the Sabres continue their youth movement, the 33-year-old will continue to get marginalized unless he improves, meaning a bottom-six role is likely in the cards.
Moulson was not protected and will be exposed for the expansion draft. The move comes to no surprise as the Sabres look to offload Moulson's hefty contract, which has two years remaining with a $5 million cap hit. Despite missing just seven games over the past three seasons, Moulson has been very disappointing, scoring just 35 goals during that span while seeing his ice time dip to a career-low 11:36 this past season. Moulson's play and production don't make him particularly valuable to Vegas, but remember the Golden Knights have to take $45 million worth of contracts for the expansion and meet or exceed the cap floor by the start of the season, so Moulson's contract could come in handy. If Vegas passes on Moulson, it's unlikely the Sabres will be able to move his contract, which means he'll play a bottom-six role yet again for the 2017-18 season.
Moulson could be courted by Golden Knights GM George McPhee in the upcoming expansion draft, The Buffalo News reports. There's a personal connection here; as noted in the report, the Vegas boss is the godfather to Moulson's wife, Alicia. Whether or not the desert becomes his true destination, the winger is a virtual lock to be exposed in the expansion draft given that he's a 33-year-old on the books for $5 million in each of the next two seasons. Moulson showed that he could still be productive, however, as he notched 14 goals, 18 assists and 18 points on the man advantage over 81 games this year. NHL teams won't be giving up their top assets if they can help it, so a traditional third-liner on the downslope of his career in Moulson could prove to be a perfect fit -- if he does move to Vegas, expect a significant rise in ice time over the 11:36 he most recently averaged with the Swords.
Moulson will return to the lineup Wednesday against the Canadiens, the Sabres' official site reports. Down to their last three regular-season games, the Sabres will reintroduce Moulson and Nicolas Deslauriers to their lineup at the expense of C.J. Smith and William Carrier. Per the report, Moulson -- a healthy scratch Monday -- is projected to skate on a line with Deslauriers and Zemgus Girgensons in his return to the mix. The 33-year-old winger has recorded 14 goals and 32 points in 78 games to date.
Moulson is not in the Sabres' lineup for Monday's game against the Maple Leafs. With Moulson not in the lineup Monday, C.J. Smith is slated to skate on the Sabres' second line along with Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart.
Moulson registered two assists -- one on the power play -- during Monday's win over Florida. After scoring just eight goals and 21 points last year, Moulson has improved to 14 tallies and 17 assists this season. However, he's playing primarily in a fourth-line role, and 18 of his points (11 goals) have come with the man advantage. There aren't many seasonal settings where he's a reliable asset, but Moulson is a potential low-priced flier in daily contests, as he has two goals and nine points through his past 16 games.
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