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Screen Shots: Matt Murray's Future and Matt Moulson's NHL Career

Adam Proteau takes a look at what the potential Matt Murray to Toronto trade would mean for both teams and Matt Moulson's career that came to a close this week.
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Welcome to another Screen Shots column, in which we look at a few disparate hockey topics and analyze them in smaller doses. Let’s forego small talk and get right to it:

– The Toronto Maple Leafs are heavily rumored to be interested in Ottawa goalie Matt Murray, and that has increased the angst from some Buds fans, who look at Murray and see an asset not fully healthy just yet, and one that carries a significant salary cap hit of $6.25 million. Even if the Sens retain a good chunk of that cap hit, the Leafs will be putting their trust in a competitive rebound for Murray, who had a goals-against average above 3.00 in both of the past two seasons.

Granted, Murray was playing behind some awful Senators teams, and the Leafs can assure him of elite goals-for production, so things may work out for GM Kyle Dubas. Toronto will sell him as a two-time Stanley Cup-winner, but a section of Leafs Nation will remain skeptical and afraid he’ll be injured again and the Leafs will be in big trouble netminding-wise. There's a chance they’ll sign newfound unrestricted free agent goalie Ilya Samsonov, but a Murray/Samsonov tandem doesn’t bowl a lot of people over. Whatever happens, it’s going to be an emotionally-charged season when it comes to goaltending for Toronto.

– News came Monday that longtime NHL winger and good guy Matt Moulson was retiring after 19 years as a pro. The 38-year-old was one of my favorite interviews while working at THN. Moulson was the epitome of a humble-but-determined hockey player, and his career is a great example for young players who go through adversity and come out as winners in their own way.

Moulson began his pro career in 2006-07 with the American League’s Manchester Monarchs, and he quickly established himself as a talented goal-scorer who always bought into the team culture. He made his NHL debut with the L.A. Kings in 2007-08, but bounced between the Kings and Monarchs before he began peaking as an NHLer with the New York Islanders in 2019-10.

The Isles acquired Moulson and made him the linemate of star center John Tavares, and the results were spectacular: In his first three seasons on Long Island, Moulson scored at least 30 goals, and 97 in total. It was a stunning blossoming for Moulson, who spent five seasons in total with the Islanders before being dealt to Buffalo in exchange for star winger Thomas Vanek in 2013-14. The previous year, Moulson was a finalist for the NHL`s Lady Byng Memorial Trophy, which speaks volumes about Mouslson’s character.

Moulson’s NHL days came to an abrupt end in December of 2017, when, in his second stint with the Sabres – who signed him to a five-year, $25-million contract in 2014 – demoted him to Ontario of the AHL. And this is where Moulson’s character really shows: at that point, he’d earned a fortune, and very easily could’ve retired then and there, and not chosen to ride buses as AHLers do. Instead, he made the most of his AHL time, scoring 46 goals in two seasons with Ontario, then moving to AHL Hershey in the final three seasons of his career.

To this writer, that shows how much Moulson loved the game. He could’ve been golfing, swimming or just lazing around after his NHL contract ended. He did no such thing. He played where he was wanted, and he contributed both in terms of statistics and leadership in the dressing room. He deserves a nice send-off tribute next season, whether it’s on Long Island, in Buffalo, in Ontario, Manchester and/or in Hershey.

Moulson played 650 NHL games, and that’s nothing to sneer at. He believed in himself when some people didn’t, and he gave back to the sport by providing an excellent example of a gentleman competitor. And now he’s going to be a scout for his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs. Congratulations on a wonderful career, Matt.

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