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:
|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.
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 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).