In all the discussions of potential line combinations this summer, the one that is mostly overlooked is the possibility of David Moss shifting from the right side to the middle of the ice. Flames fans will remember last year that Moss moved up the depth chart and skated a few games between Iginla and Tanguay before being felled by a knee injury in practice for the rest of the year.
I personally never seriously considered the possibility since Moss has been a winger for 99% of his career and the Flames have too many centers already. However, according to our own RossCreek on twitter, Jay Feaster admitted today that Brent Sutter prefers Moss at the center position.
The potential is an intriguing one. Moss had a big season last year with one of the highest ES scoring rates and corsi rates on the club. His personal scoring chance ratio in the games I counted was 56.4% at five-on-five as well. On top of all that, his btief stint as the top line center was mostly a success: Iginla’s scoring chance ratio increased to 54.8% from 53.6 with Moss on his line while Tanguay’s jumped from 53.4% to 64.1. The sample size was small (about 40 chances total) but there’s some evidence the trio wasn’t sunk by Moss’ addition.
On the other hand, moving Moss over creates all sorts of problems elsewhere down the roster. It bumps the Flames number of NHL centers to six: Moss, Jokinen, Langkow, Stajan, Backlund and Morrison. Even if Morrison is down for the first part of the year and Stajan starts on the fourth line, there are still four centers jostling for three positions in the line-up. Moss at center means one of Backlund, Jokinen or Langkow moving to the wing.
Jokinen and Backlund are the most natural choices there given Langkow’s the strongest two-way pivot on the club. I’ve been agitating for Jokinen to move to the wing for years, so if Sutter is serious about converting Moss permanently, that may be the way to go.
Coaches say all sorts of things in theoff-season that don’t translate when the puck drops, so it’s entirely possible Brent will change his mind at the first sign of trouble. That said, it’s something interesting to consider at the end of August.