Is Matt Moulson What’s “Best” For The Islanders?

Apr 16, 2013; Uniondale, NY, USA; New York Islanders left wing

Matt Moulson

(26) reacts after scoring against Florida Panthers goalie

Jacob Markstrom

(35) during the first period of an NHL game at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Islanders have responded well to head coach Jack Capuano‘s mixing of the team’s four lines. After a weekend featuring two games – both having the Isles held under 20 shots on goal – the Long Island’s hockey team has recorded at least 40 shots on goal in its two games since, earning three of a possible four points in the standings.

Through the first two games of this experiment, the Isles are firing on all cylinders, which means we, as fans, should get used to what we see for the time being. Of course, that also means Matt Moulson, a staple on John Tavares‘ left wing for the past four seasons, will continue to receive 5-on-5 ice time on the team’s third-line.

It wouldn’t be Islanders Country without controversy, so here we are. A three-time 30-goal scorer and free-agent-to-be, Moulson will be flanking Peter Regin and Cal Clutterbuck, a radical change from what he has been used to since he joined the Islanders, for the time-being.

What does this mean for Moulson’s future on Long Island?

It’s too early to say Moulson’s a goner when the summer comes around, but it’s fair to assume what most are already thinking: Garth Snow is weighing his options on what’s best for this hockey club moving forward as well as what’s best for Tavares, the team’s captain and franchise centerpiece, as the clock on Moulson’s contract continues ticking closer and closer to expiration.

Some would immediately blurt out “SIGN MOULSON,” but I digress – not that I dislike having Moulson on this team. While some would say that Moulson is best for Tavares, I’d say Tavares is best for Moulson. While John’s ceiling has not yet been reached, the 2013 season demonstrated that he could have “maxed-out” his potential while playing next to his life-long friend. Sure, Moulson’s production-per-game increased in each of his four seasons next to the Isles star, but Tavares’ plateaued in 2013 – posting .98 points-per-game after posting .99 points-per-game one season before.

Thus far, the splitting of the two has further outed the “reliance theory.” Tavares has posted points in six-straight games this season, with some of those points coming with Moulson on the bench. Through the Islanders’ first seven games of the season, Moulson has posted only three points, none of them coming without Tavares on the ice. While Tavares in on pace for a career-best season, Moulson is on pace for a career-worst season. The season’s young, yes, but the numbers are telling.

Before the Islanders decide to spend the big bucks on one of their own, they have to make sure Moulson can do it by himself. If Moulson can score 30 goals on another line, then the Isles have a great hockey player that’s worth the ensuing paycheck. If he can’t, then he’s not helping anybody.

What are your thoughts? Are the Islanders doing wrong by Matt Moulson?