The Minnesota Wild rekindled their great relationship with the Buffalo Sabres in the waning minutes before the trade deadline, acquiring LW Matt Moulson. In addition to Moulson, 4th line forward Cody McCormick is also included in the deal. According to sources, the price is said to be gritty forward Torrey Mitchell as well as a pair of 2nd round draft picks. The league is yet to confirm or approve this trade, but will likely do so in the next few hours.
The news broke via John Vogl of Buffalo News nearly an hour ago when he confirmed the reports that Moulson had been traded. This deal is the latest in a number of trades the Wild have made with the Sabres in recent years. Last year they acquired Jason Pominville as the deadline approached, a move that has paid dividends for the team this year.
This marks the second time Matt Moulson has been dealt this season. Just 11 games into the season, he was traded to Buffalo from the New York Islanders in an exchange that sent Thomas Vanek to New York. Since joining the rebuilding Sabres, Moulson has been the speculation of many trade rumors. Moulson, 30, comes to the Wild having scored 17 goals and 38 points in his 55 contests. He has scored 30 goals in three seasons with a career high in points coming in 2011-2012 when he scored 69 points with the Islanders.
Moulson will likely assume his left wing position on the second line which is centered by Mikko Koivu. This will move Dany Heatley down the lineup after he had shown signs of improvement since his early season slump.
Moulson will blend nicely with Koivu. He is a proven goal scorer and will be the recipient of the playmaking ability of Koivu. Add Charlie Coyle, the right wing on the second line, and it makes for a deadly combo of a scorer, passer and power forward that every team looks for in a line.
The only issue with this trade is the looming contract issue surrounding Moulson. He is currently in the final year of a 3-year, $9.4 million contract which brings a cap hit of $3.133 million. He will likely be looking for a raise in his next contract; something the Wild should be able to provide given their potential cap room this offseason.
Another question fans are likely asking is how this affects the potential to sign Thomas Vanek in the free agency. Vanek was traded to Montreal around the same time the Moulson deal broke Tuesday afternoon. Hypothetically, the Wild should have enough money to afford both players this offseason. With Dany Heatley and Mike Rupp likely being let go, as well as the salary cap increase next season, the Wild will have about $16-$17 million to work with to resign young players and to sign free agents. Barring any major problems, Minnesota is still in the running for Thomas Vanek this summer.
GM Chuck Fletcher has been nearly flawless in his tenure with Minnesota. Fans have accepted his ability to draft and make moves beneficial to the franchise, and this is another one he will likely be able to add to the list of great moves. Matt Moulson gives the Wild two complete lines and plenty of depth beyond that. It’s now clear that the Minnesota Wild is not going to wait for a Stanley Cup to come to them. Rather, they are going to go out and try to take one in the near future.
Here is a small sample of what Moulson is capable of: