It’s not much of a secret that the Nashville Predators will be looking to add some scoring punch this offseason, and their best chance of quickly injecting talent into their forward group will be through free agency.
If the Predators aren’t able to bring in a top-tier free agent like Avalanche center Paul Stastny in July, then the team would be well severed to make a pitch to Minnesota Wild forward Matt Moulson. The 30-year-old is coming off a disappointing postseason with the Predators Central Division rival (four points in 10 games), but has crossed the 30-goal plateau three times in his career.
Why Moulson would work in Nashville: Moulson told Pioneer Press that over his seven-year career he’s always been asked to score goals and that’s what he tries to focus on. The Ontario native has a faster release on his shot than perhaps any of the current Predators and consistently crashes the net looking to light the lamp. Moulson doesn’t have the speed that many top line forwards do, but his scoring touch and net presence would place him solidly in Nashville’s top six forward group. The winger played for three different NHL teams this season (Islanders, Sabres and Wild) and stretched 23 goals over the 2013-2014 campaign. Moulson flourished on Long Island when he had a committed setup man, so the Predators would need to focus on helping create opportunities for him. One of the most important features Moulson would offer Nashville, however, would be the gift of scoring on the cheap. Moulson should be looking for around $4.5 million per season, a reasonable raise from the three-year, $9.4 million deal he just completed.
Why he’ll be an option: Moulson appears to be headed out of Minnesota due in part to his mediocre performance in the playoffs and the Wild’s extreme interest in Canadiens forward Thomas Vanek. Charley Walters of Pioneer Press reported that Wild owner Craig Leopold will make an all-out push for Vanek this summer even if that means letting go of Moulson and forward Dany Heatley. Moulson will turn 31 this coming season and might get passed over by teams looking for players with more upside. Finally, Nashville has just a couple forward spots open currently and they’ll be more likely than other clubs to give Moulson a big payday.
Conclusion: Moulson doesn’t have the “wow” factor of some impending free agents, but that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t be able to help the Predators on offense. If Nashville can ink the “older” but proven scorer for under $5 million per season, than the club may find next year’s leading scorer at a good price.