The Pittsburgh Penguins play their penultimate game before the Olympic break tonight against the Buffalo Sabres, who currently sign Matt Moulson's paychecks. If things go Ray Shero's way, that signature will change. Matt Moulson, who is on injured reserve with a ailing arm, makes the most sense as a Penguins trade acquisition. Tomas Vanek is too soft and too expensive for a rental. Ryan Callahan's price will be too high and odds are he'll resign with the Rangers. Even hurt, Matt Moulson is Goldilocks.
The Sabres exchanged Vanek for Moulson and two draft picks on October 27th. It was the Sabres' proclamation to the league that they are officially rebuilding in 2013-2014. Odds are Buffalo will deal Ryan Miller at the deadline and discussions of flipping Moulson have been going on for the last two months. And why not? Moulson is a outstanding two-way forward who flashes signs of becoming even better. He has 15 goals, 18 assists, and 34 hits this season. That's the upside. The downside? Moulson is a unrestricted free agent at season's end.
Penguins GM Ray Shero has firmly stated he will not be gathering rentals at the trade deadline like he did last year. That philosophy is all well and good for retooling the third line, but replacing Pascal Dupuis on the first unit? Not so much. Tanner Glass, Brian Gibbons, and Chuck Kobasew are not top line material. Beau Bennett's return is too far off to be a viable solution. The only course of action left is a trade. The only guys talented enough to play alongside Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz are impending UFAs.
Matt Moulson, a 30-year old Canadian, would bring size and a solid scoring touch to the Penguins, both of which are needed on the team. The Penguins are a tad smaller than they'd like to be heading into the playoffs. Size matters when playing teams like Boston and (a healthy) Detroit. The asking price of Moulson would not be horribly high also. A handful of draft picks and a prospect or two should be enough to send him south.
But all that goodness means other teams are interested too. The Los Angeles Kings are looking for scoring and the Carolina Hurricanes are surprisingly in the mix as well. The competition for Moulson will be tough and who knows if he'll sign long-term with the club that deals for him. Ray Shero does not want to nab a rental, but he may have no choice. The Pens need a first line winger. Not as much as a third line but still . . .
Point is, Matt Moulson will likely come off IR with different team. Let's hope it's the team in black and Vegas gold.
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- The Pittsburgh Penguins’ Options for Pascal Dupuis Injury Fallout
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