[Wild About Numbers]: Who Is Matt Moulson & What Does He Do?

He grows a good mustache for starters! - Hannah Foslien

So now that the dust has settled, it's time for some in-depth analysis to see what kind of player Matt Moulson is.

Moulson's a 30 year old LW who will be 31 early next season. He was born in Mississauga, Ontario and played for Cornell University in the ECAC for for years. He was drafted 263rd overall by the Penguins in 2003 and then was signed by the Kings in 2006. He spent most of the next three seasons in the AHL with the Manchester Monarchs, playing 29 times for the Kings before signing a 1-year contract with the Islanders and debuting for them at the start of the 2009/10 season.

He would play every game of the next 3 seasons for them and score more than 30 goals each time. He was a Lady Byng finalist in 2013. Early this season, he was traded along with a 1st and 2nd round pick to the Sabres for Thomas Vanek. He played 44 games for a team severely lacking in NHL talent and scored 11 goals with 18 assists before being traded to the Wild.

One of my first thoughts about him is that he doesn't seem to miss any time with injuries, which is something the Wild sorely need as a team who seem to always have some key player on IR.

I managed to convince Islanders fan, and blogger, Garik to give us some insight into Moulson's play:

Moulson is a REALLY one-dimensional player. He plays near zero role in the neutral zone (least amount of entries on team), very little on D (although he's not liabilities on either), etc.

He does one thing, and one thing well: Scoring goals (he also can pass a little). Of course, he's REALLY good at scoring goals. He's the prototypical example of the guy who somehow is ALWAYS in front of the net, finding pucks at EV or on the PP. He's not big, but somehow he always gets there.

(He also rarely commits penalties, although i see he's committed a few more than usual with the sabres).

Thanks to Garik for the insight. Make sure to check out the blog he runs with a couple of other writers, "Hockey-Graphs", the best new blog on the block in my opinion. Plenty of great articles to read there if you have the time.


So, let's get into the numbers....


-Firstly, here are the top 25 forwards (2500+ minutes played) in G/60 from 2009 to 2013:

#

NAME

5v5 G/60

1

CROSBY, SIDNEY

1.606

2

STAMKOS, STEVEN

1.352

3

SEMIN, ALEXANDER

1.2

4

GRABNER, MICHAEL

1.194

5

BURROWS, ALEX

1.185

6

GABORIK, MARIAN

1.153

7

CARTER, JEFF

1.152

8

NASH, RICK

1.143

9

OVECHKIN, ALEX

1.12

10

TOEWS, JONATHAN

1.117

11

NEAL, JAMES

1.115

12

RYAN, BOBBY

1.104

13

COUTURE, LOGAN

1.081

14

SKINNER, JEFF

1.059

15

KESSEL, PHIL

1.055

16

BENN, JAMIE

1.041

17

KUNITZ, CHRIS

1.04

18

SHARP, PATRICK

1.039

19

MALKIN, EVGENI

1.038

20

EBERLE, JORDAN

1.034

21

SEDIN, DANIEL

1.032

22

POULIOT, BENOIT

1.025

23

COLE, ERIK

1.014

24

DUPUIS, PASCAL

0.994

25

MOULSON, MATT

0.975

  • Oh cool, he's hanging out with some pretty impressive names in that top-25 (except for Pouliot) and there are some great players below. So the guy can score.
  • It's worth remembering that this was while playing a lot with Tavares, but still, that's a great goalscoring rate.


-Here are the top-10 forwards (750+ minutes) in 5v4 G/60 in that same time period:

#

NAME

5v4 G/60

1

STAMKOS, STEVEN

2.866

2

SELANNE, TEEMU

2.786

3

CALLAHAN, RYAN

2.596

4

MOULSON, MATT

2.594

5

HEATLEY, DANY

2.532

6

OVECHKIN, ALEX

2.485

7

VANEK, THOMAS

2.433

8

MARLEAU, PATRICK

2.414

9

KESLER, RYAN

2.357

10

SEDIN, DANIEL

2.357

  • He's was an even more efficient goalscorer on the powerplay. Damn.

-Here are his WOWY numbers from 2009 to 2013 at 5v5:

With Moulson

Moulson Apart

Teammate Apart

TAVARES

3451:20

50.6%

731:34

46.6%

855:32

46.5%

PARENTEAU

1506:44

49.9%

2676:10

49.9%

1794:43

50.0%

MACDONALD

1271:40

49.0%

2911:14

50.3%

2733:19

45.7%

STREIT

1167:36

51.0%

3015:18

49.4%

2518:56

48.8%

HAMONIC

1012:58

49.9%

3169:56

49.9%

2165:38

46.8%

OKPOSO

983:12

50.6%

3199:42

49.6%

2389:33

50.1%

BOYES

540:27

53.9%

3642:27

49.3%

3039:40

50.6%

  • Obviously these aren't the be-all-and-end-all, but his possession numbers fall off a cliff without Tavares, though so do Tavares' and the sample size is small so whatever.
  • AMac, Stret and Hamonic all do significantly worse without Moulson than with him, but that's not surprising if you consider that Moulson was mostly tied to Tavares.
  • These WOWYs really don't shed much light on Moulson, so I'm gonna have to dig a bit deeper. What they tell us is that Moulson played with Tavares almost all the time in New York.


-Here are Player Usage Charts (courtesy of SomeKindOfNinja) from 2011/12, 2012/13 and 2013/14 for Moulson and his team's other forwards. The colour indicates positive or negative Corsi Rel and the bubble size indicates the amount. Open image in a new tab to see full size:

2011/12

Moulson_puc_1_medium

  • Fairly tough competition but with soft zone starts and tied to John Tavares adds up to a nice Corsi Rel for Moulson that season.


2012/13

Moulson_puc_2_medium

  • More of the same here but against softer competition.


2013/14

Moulson_puc_3_medium

  • This season, spent mostly with the Sabres, he has played similarly middling competition with more than 50% offensive zone starts and been a decent puck possession player.



-Next, let's look at a different Player Usage Chart (this time from Hockey Abstract) showing Moulson vs Wild forwards in 2013/14. The bubble colour indicates positive or negative Corsi Rel and the depth of the colour indicates amount. Bubble size equals TOI/G:

Moulson_puc_4_medium

  • So he plays similar competition to the Wild's scoring lines but with tougher zone starts and yet produces good numbers, or at least he has done this season.
  • I included McCormick and Mitchell in this graph for the hell of it. McCormick's numbers are weirdly not terrible, but that's an article for another day...
  • It's worth noting that it's easier for Moulson to post good Corsi numbers relative to his Sabres teammates because they are so terrible, but even his Corsi For%, while in the negative, is comparable to Heatley or Granlund in tougher minutes.



-Here's the same chart but with the Y-Axis changed to represent Quality Of Teammates:

Moulson_puc_5_medium

  • Unsurprisingly, Moulson is way behind the Wild players in QoT thanks to a season mostly spent on the worst team in the league.


-Here are some scoring stats from this season for Moulson vs Wild forwards:

Even-Strength

Player

G/60

P/60

1

Mikael Granlund

0.36

1.98

2

Jason Pominville

0.99

1.78

3

Matt Cooke

0.61

1.68

4

Nino Niederreiter

0.68

1.66

5

Zach Parise

0.65

1.56

6

Justin Fontaine

1.02

1.53

7

Matt Moulson

0.59

1.47

8

Mikko Koivu

0.5

1.42

9

Charlie Coyle

0.42

1.33

10

Erik Haula

0.51

1.28

11

Dany Heatley

0.62

1.16

12

Kyle Brodziak

0.22

1.09

13

Jason Zucker

0.71

0.71

  • His scoring rate is decent considering he plays with the Sabres. Faster than Heatley anyway.
  • I expect him to thrive in softer minutes with the Wild.


Powerplay

Player

G/60

P/60

1

Matt Cooke

0

17.65

2

Jason Zucker

3.4

6.79

3

Zach Parise

4.28

6.62

4

Matt Moulson

2.8

5.94

5

Mikko Koivu

0.38

5.34

6

Mikael Granlund

0.92

4.62

7

Jason Pominville

1.4

3.65

8

Nino Niederreiter

1.2

3.59

9

Dany Heatley

1.1

3.3

10

Justin Fontaine

1.03

2.06

11

Charlie Coyle

0.52

1.55

12

Erik Haula

0

0

13

Kyle Brodziak

0

0

  • His powerplay skills are evident here with a good scoring rate on a bad team.
  • Once again, I expect this to increase dramatically on the Wild where he will be playing on a team with much better players and depth.


-Here's how big a role he played in his team(s) even-strength and powerplay minutes this year:

Player

EVTm%

PPTm%

1

Mikko Koivu

32.20%

65.10%

2

Zach Parise

31.50%

63.30%

3

Matt Moulson

29.80%

60.20%

4

Jason Pominville

29.80%

65.70%

5

Charlie Coyle

28.80%

46.00%

6

Mikael Granlund

27.90%

47.60%

7

Kyle Brodziak

27.00%

2.70%

8

Nino Niederreiter

26.00%

30.90%

9

Matt Cooke

25.70%

1.00%

10

Dany Heatley

25.40%

50.30%

11

Jason Zucker

23.80%

16.90%

12

Justin Fontaine

22.20%

20.20%

13

Erik Haula

16.60%

3.20%

*

Okay, that's enough stats for one night. To summarise, Moulson looks like a guy who is gonna score a lot of goals if you put him with a good centre in slightly sheltered minutes (which the Wild can do).

Ideal situation: Put him with Koivu and Pominville. Koivu carries the defensive load and sets up Moulson with his slick passing. Pominville's work rate and battling means they always have the puck. They'll play slightly tough competition but should crush most lines.

I'm not sure I like the idea of Moulson with Granlund due to the two of them lacking somewhat defensively and in terms of neutral zone play. Granlund with Parise and Nino makes for a very strong 2nd line.


What are your thoughts, Wilderness?


Follow me on Twitter for more Wild talk.

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