2. Who steps up and becomes a permanent fixture on the top scoring line with John Tavares and Matt Moulson?
It is no secret that John Tavares is a pretty good hockey player. Word is out. What comes with that designation, especially after a year in which he was nominated as a finalist for the Hart Trophy as league MVP, is increased attention and tighter checking.
We saw the beginning of coaches attempting to devise a gameplan around stopping the Islanders top forward in the playoffs and for the first two games, it seemed to work. But then Tavares buckled down and finished extremely strong in the series, proving that it is more difficult than first thought.
Secondary scoring, whether it be on the first line or throughout the lineup, always does the trick in alleviating pressure on a team’s top star. Matt Moulson is the most consistent goal scoring winger in the game today, as last season’s 82 game pace would have likely given him a fourth consecutive 30 goal season.
The bigger issue is who steps up and assumes the role of departed Brad Boyes? Pierre-Marc Bouchard, the free agent signing from Minnesota over the off-season, is assumed to have the inside track. At just 5’10″ and 173 lbs, Bouchard comes with some durability issues but seems completely healthy heading into camp. He has magical hands and is thought to be a top flight passer. That could turn Tavares into more of a true goal scorer this season and help Moulson hit the coveted 40 goal mark.