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Grading the Islanders: Can the Matt Moulson Miracle repeat?

Apologies for site issues earlier; things should be good now. Since you had to go elsewhere this a.m., you might have already seen:

And now, our next report card. We don't track every depth and AHL signing here, but I found this a fun bit of blogger shame: There is no record on this site of the announcement last summer when Matt Moulson signed. In other words, I did not make a big fuss when the Islanders acquired the guy who would lead them in goals with 30 in 2009-10. Go me!

To be fair, the Islanders likewise did not make a big deal of it, and they said they hoped he would continue to score in the AHL (74 goals in three seasons with Manchester) while competing for a spot with the Islanders. Considering those expectations, then, it would seem Moulson's report card would be as easy as they come.

Matt Moulson

#26 / Left Wing / New York Islanders



Nov 01, 1983


RFA, was $575k NHL salary (2-way)

"We signed some Moulson/Moore/Mauldin guys."

Moulson scored in preseason, then he scored early in the regular season, and he never really stopped. Sure, he leveled off after the hot start, but on his way to 30 goals he provided the best anyone could have rationally expected when he arrived.

Will he reach 30 again? Well, considering his profile -- as well as the fact the Isles hadn't had a 30-goal guy since Jason Blake's walk year -- it's not likely. But he will continue to be a smart, two-way NHL player with scoring punch. Bank on that, at least.

GP G A P +/- PIM PPG 5-on-5 Rating Rank TOI PPtoi SOG PCT
2009-10 - Matt Moulson 82 30 18 48 -1 16 8 2nd of 14 16:38 3:01 208 14.4

One question you look at when trying to guess how repeatable a guy's good season is: Was his shooting percentage unusually high? In other words, was he particularly lucky this year (at age 26) since four-five good bounces can make for a career year?

For Moulson, we don't know since this was his first full NHL season. We do know 14.4% is within the range of the best NHL shooters. We also have data from some of his AHL seasons: 2006-07 with Manchester, when he played 77 games and scored 25 goals on 173 shots. That translates to? ... 14.5%. In 2007-08 in Manchester he scored 28 goals on 157 shots (57 games), which translates to ... 17.8%. A year later (2008-09), it was 21 goals (54 games) on 180 shots, which is just 11.7%.

The AHL is easier to score in than the NHL, but I don't figure him to see a huge drop from this year since Moulson's offense is built both on his ability to get a good shot off as well as his willingness to go to the net and get deflection and tap-in goals. Moulson's 14.4% this year was highest on the Islanders, but not by a huge margin over fellow shooters John Tavares, Josh Bailey and Blake Comeau.

Oh, also there's this: 22 of Moulson's 30 goals were at even strength. He wasn't relying on powerplay servings, and in fact his 22 even-strength goals were more than any other Islander's total goals, save for John Tavares.

The Poem

You came out of nowhere
Or so some fools (me) thought
Did nothing but score here
In the corners you fought

You turned a small summer signing
Into a winter-long party
Cheers to Garth's minors mining
And grazie, Dean Lombardi

The Grade

Here's where you vote your grade on a player based on your preseason expectations. That way we don't penalize a 5th-defenseman for merely being a 5th-defenseman, and so on. Which makes the grading of Matt Moulson fun, because, well, ... I mean, who knew, right?

Further discussion: Tell me, how many goals will Moulson score in 2010-11? There might be line changes; there might be less luck; or hey, he might even get better.