In Defense of David Moss



In the wake of a disappointing season, a lot of Flames players have become targets for fan angst – some deservedly, others not-so-much. David Moss has become one such target for a variety of reasons.

Perhaps primary amongst them is the fact that he just isn’t all that compelling a player upon inital inspection. A former seventh rounder with mostly nominal counting stats under his belt, Moss isn’t overly big, can’t skate all that fast and doesn’t have an impressive shot. He’s a player that can fade into the background of many a game.

Moss has a spot on the Flames roster because he’s a smart player, however. He garners results because he simply doesn’t do a lot wrong. He’s one of those rare, low-priced players whose weaknesses don’t wholly compromise his game in any one area. That’s one of the reasons he along with Conroy and Glencross combined to form perhaps the most formidable third line in the NHL during the 2008-09 season – the trio managed 127 points and were amongst league leaders in terms of possession, despite the fact that many of the other, higher priced Flames players started more often in the offensive zone (including Iginla and Cammalleri). That line drove the bus against similar competition that year and their success may ironically be another reason that Moss has fallen out of favor recently.

After tallying 20 goals and 39 points, Moss’ 2009-10 was obviously a let down. With just 8 goals and 17 points in 69 games, it’s hard not to see David as expendable on a club seraching for offense going forward. His struggles sprung from a number of factors:

1.) He began the year on the wing of the ill-fated Olli Jokinen – Jarome Iginla line. It seemed like a big step forward for Moss; a reward from the coaching staff for his break-out the year before. Of course, in retrospect, nothing could be further from the truth. Brent Sutter sent that line out against the big boys and they got trounced in terms of possession and scoring chances in the early going. No winger outside of Alex Ovechkin was saving that unit.

2.) He injured his shoulder in January and missed 13 games. Moss didn’t look quite right for awhile after returning and it wouldn’t surprise me if it took him some time to get back on the horse after the injury.

That said, if you inspect this scoring chance post, you’ll notice David landed on the positive side of the ledger this season at even strength. His SC ratio of 52% was fairly strong and would have been better had he not spent the first week or so with Jarome and Olli (scoring chance ratio for 12, 21 and 25 = 45.5%). So what depressed his scoring so much? Besides playing just 64 games, Moss had a rotten PDO (96.4), one of the worst on the team in fact. His on-ice SH% in isolation (5.0%) was in fact the very worst on the club (as compared to 8% and 7% the two seasons previous). So the hockey gods weren’t kind to Moss last year.

To add further meat to this defense, I decided to compare Moss to Ales Kotalik – a player with whom he is ostensibly battling for a roster spot in the minds of many. Here is their gross point totals over the last 3 seasons:

Player 2007-08 2008-09 2009-10 Totals
Moss 11 points 39 points 17 points 67
Kotalik 43 points 43 points 27 points 113

Seems like a slam dunk, really. Although he’s pricier, the points totals suggest that Kotalik is the superior player. Especially since the Flames are looking to increase the GF column. Always remember, though, that all things must be considered in context: here are the pertinent games played and ice-times for each guy.

Moss 2007-08 2008-09 2009-10 Totals
Games 41 81 64 186

ES ice

429 873 745 2,047

PP ice

33 149 92 274


Kotalik 2007-08 2008-09 2009-10 Totals
Games 79 75 71 225

ES ice

951 944 784 2,679

PP ice

259 213 219 691


The difference in offensive totals becomes less authoritative when the context of each players ice time is added: Kotalik has appeared in 39 more games and played 632 more ES minutes the last 3 seasons. The real major difference between the two comes on the PP though – Kotalik’s 691 minutes is 2.5 times more than Moss’ 274 total. It’s no coincidence, therefore, that the one season the two players were within spitting distance of each other points-wise (2008-09) is the lone year Moss is anywhere near Kotalik in terms of ice.

Perhaps Kotalik gets more ice simply because he’s the superior player? Well, not really. Here’s each players pertinent underlying numbers at ES over the last 3 seasons:


Moss 2007-08 2008-09 2009-10 Mean
ESP/60 1.55 1.87 0.98 1.47


+11.86 +23.79 +7.46 +14.37
Qual Comp -0.996 -0.171 -0.046 -0.404
Zonestart 55.6% 53.3% 53.4% 54.1%


Kotalik 2007-08 2008-09 2009-10 Mean
ESP/60 1.24 1.38 0.77 1.13


+2.09 -0.79 +3.41 +1.57
Qual Comp -0.050 +0.308 +0.145 +0.134
Zonestart 56.5% 54.1% 51.9% 54.2%


Moss was the more efficient producer of points at 5on5 each year and was far superior in terms of moving the puck north, even though they started from the offensive end about the same amount. The qual comp suggests Kotalik was facing tougher minutes, but the truth is both landed in about the middle of the curve for each team(s) they played for over the selected time period. The only place Kotalik has consistently outplayed Moss is the power play, where he’s averaged over 3.5 PPP/60. Moss crested 4.00 PPP/60 in 2008-09 (the only year he spent significant time on the man advantage), but was sub 2.00 in both the other seasons. We should also keep in mind that Kotalik has probably spent a lot of time on primary power play units over the last three years, while Moss has mostly been relegated to second-unit duty.

In the overall picture, Moss is the superior player at ES and probably slightly worse on the PP. At a cap hit of $1.3M, his value is hard to beat – Kotalik at $3M/year doesn’t come close. What’s more, because of his lackluster counting stats, Moss’ trade value is probably minimal at this point, meaning the club won’t be gaining by moving him, even if it’s just for cap space – there’s a sizeable chance his replacement would either be worse or more expensive (or both).

    • Return to form? I don’t think that Moss has had enough of a career to determine his form. Really even if we could determine it in all rational likelihood at this point in time we would have to determine that his true ability is probably closer to 09-10 Moss then 08-09 Moss (Meaning that we would have to consider his 20G year the outlier rather then the standard).

      Not to say that I think last year was the best that he could do but I don’t think he’s a legit likely perienniel 20G scorer

  • I think Moss could return to a 30 point guy. Maybe not 20 goals, but I think him & Glencross bring it when they play together and would love to see them on the 3rd line. Seeing as we have 3 2nd line centers I don’t know who’ll play with them but…..

  • MC Hockey

    Moss did benefit in 2008-08 from his linemates as Ken says. I don’t see 20 goals again unless he plays more PP or top line/2nd line. I believe his averages will be 15 goals, 15 assists per season long term. But, remember that darn Salary Cap…so for around 30 points his current salary is good and comparatively beter than Kotalik who may end up an average 20 goals and 20 assists lifetime.

  • I think based on his 08/09 season, expectations rose to unreasonable standards. I thought he may be on his way to being a legit 2nd line secondary scorer. In reality, he’s more likely a solid 3rd line guy in the Fernando Pisani mode (when he was healthy) – big guy that plays a solid two-way game and can chip in offensively here & there; not flashy or overly noticeable, but not a liability.

    I’m one of the guys that was disappointed in him last season and would have been willing to move him… still would be, perhaps. BUT, as Kent points out, given his boxcars, he’s not likely to fetch much, and with his contract, any replacement would either be worse or more expensive (or both).

  • I like Moss a ton. The teammate question is a good one, he did play a bunch with Conroy who anybody reasonable would know is all that and more.

    Still, Moss contributes to winning games, plain and simple.

    I thought that was all that mattered, but some fools still feel the need to pigeonhole players into nice and neat categories.

    This AFTER they watch all 82 games and see these players more or less for what they really are. Damn. It’d be funny if it weren’t so goddamn sad.

  • Isn’t it a bit apples to oranges comparing Moss to Kotalik. Different roles, teams, line-mates, expectation, etc. Wouldn’t a comparison to Glencross (or someone playing a similar role) be better to determine Moss’ value? Kotalik has been in a different role. There appears to be too many variables.

    That said, I get that Sutter may need to choose between the two players. I admit that Moss is generally not a liability on the ice. However, a third line needs to put up some points.

    If you believe that 08/09 is reflective of Moss capabilities then I agree he is the better of the two players. However, if you take 08/09 out of the equation Moss really doesn’t stand out as a point producer.

    Kotalik is a PP specialist and a proven 20-goal scorer. Looking at ES chances is all fine in dandy. However, the Flames need a few players that can actually capitalize on some of those chances.

    • Reidja

      Maybe you’re right!

      I’ve got a crazy idea: let’s start Moss on the first line with Iggy. His lack of skill will keep him humble and his hard work will make him likable. Humble, nice guys always win right? Kane who?

    • Reidja

      Seriously? We want to play the definitions game. I have a better one for pathetic: Spending time insulting people on the internet for using a common hockey term on a hockey site.

      If it helps you a good one for 20-goal scorer would be: A player who has scored 20-goals or more in 4 of his 7-seasons, and been on a 20-goal pace for 2 more. Its much faster to just say 20-goal scorer though.

      Bottom line is Moss’ defensive results are as much a credit to his line-mates as they are to him. He doesn’t kill penalties (odd for a guy supposedly so effective in a D role). He is ineffective on the PP. He lacks the physical tools (speed, shot, hands).

      The comparison is limited to three seasons and includes Kotalik’s worst year (09/10) and ignores his previous 4 seasons of good production. It also includes Moss’ best year (08/09) which appears to be abnormal production. Mitigate those to abnormalities and Kotalik is by far the superior point getter.

      Moss’ line mates further corrupt the comparison. We have seen on this site how much of an impact your line-mates have on these numbers.

      I have no illusions that Kotalik is an ideal player. I am perfectly aware of his liabilities. I don’t know who I would pick between him and Moss.

      But there is no denying that the Flames need goals and in my opinion Kotalik is better at providing them then Moss.

  • icedawg_42

    “the world needs ditch-diggers too”.
    I’ve got no problem with Moss – no high expectations, so at his price point, there’s nothing wrong with him. Some guys are meant to be there to give the stars a breather….now, those stars need a swift kick in the butt though!

  • Reidja

    I’ve got a crazy idea: let’s start Moss on the first line with Iggy. His lack of skill will keep him humble and his hard work will make him likable.

    Do you one better, let’s give Iggy a linemate who can’t be bothered to give strong support to the D even though his position calls for it, who can’t win a puck battle to save his life, who can’t keep half the plays in the offensive zone alive due to poor vision and haphazard shot selection, and whose idea of neutral zone transition is to attempt – and fail – to mow his way, 1on1, through prepared defenders.

    Man that would be senseless and stupi – oh wait! The fans have *already* penciled in Jokinen as our #1 centre beside Iginla!

  • Reidja

    Since you undoubtedly do not know anything about the actual effect of context of icetime on results such as goals scored, it suffices to say that your opinions on this matter lack value.