For the most part, the idea of which UFA’s the Flames should re-sign has been pretty black and white. The consensus has Calgary needing to pursue a drastically different course of action that will take them off the dead end path that they have been blindly plodding for the better part of the last decade.
Where that discussion sees a little more grey area is when we discuss the future of David Moss.
There is no doubt that Moss has been a work-in-progress for the Flames over his six year career and the organization has invested a lot in the 30 year old American winger. If there is one attribute that has always stuck out about Moss to the fans and to the team, it’s confidence.
Both fan and management have for the most part felt that David has always been an asset on the ice rather than a liability and if the Flames were ever in situations that are oft described as “crunch-time”, that Mosser is one of the guys you immediately look to.
Unfortunately for both team and player, that when that search was on, more often than not, Moss’ stall was empty. Other than 2008-09, when he managed to play 81 games, Moss has been injured for significant chunks of time, leaving the Flames searching for answers and alternatives. With Moss now being a UFA, it’s a status that might be more detrimental to his future as a Flame rather than the leverage most players would use to their advantage.
When we examine the table above, it’s easy to jump to the conclusion that the 2008-09 season what Moss’ most productive season based on the fact that it generated his highest point totals and, well, he finished the season – and you’d be right. From the point of view of the Flames, it was also the most rewarding season financially in the value they got out of him. According to NHLnumbers.com, Moss’ 39 pts in 81 games at a cap hit of $550k, gave him a spending efficiency value of 70.909 pts for every million dollars. It was a no brainer for the Flames to give him a significant raise the following season and a three year deal.
Unfortunately, again, that would be the apex of his value in part because he has yet to play a complete season since. Over the next three years, his games-played totals would slide and only in the middle season (2011), would his point totals rebound.
From the on-ice perspective, 2010-11 was his most effective season. Even though he finished with three less goals and nine less points than his best totals, he also did so in 23 less games. During that time he was an integral part of the line-up and his loss was thought by many to be the key contributors to the Flames missing the playoffs.
What Moss brings to the Flames goes beyond his offensive production. While he may not register on the score sheet every night, when he is in the line-up, he definitely has an impact. Over the last three seasons, David has seen his offensive zone starts go down from 53.4 – 53.8 – 47.9; while his Corsi Relative has gone up from 3.0 – 7.1 – 10.3. He is a smart player that is capable of driving the play out of his own zone. An argument can be made that Moss’ absence might have had something to do with that problematic aspect of the Flames seasons, particularly last year.
One has to wonder that if David could actually played a full 82 games, would he show dividends for all the hard work and invested time that Calgary has put into him. The only problem is that now that his contract is up, has time run out for the right-winger? The uncertainty of his ability to stay healthy enough to help the team when they have most needed him forced the team to search for other options. With the new direction of the team and a focus on getting younger, has the alternative now become the more desirable choice?
The way I see it, the Flames are down to a two-horse race when it comes to their UFAs. Do they re-sign David Moss, someone they have invested so much in and know what they get out of him, on a hope that he can finally have a healthy season? Or, do the Flames re-sign their alternative option, Lee Stempniak, who happens to be a year younger and brings more offensive potential than David?
I don’t see Calgary re-signing both and given the talk that new head coach Bob Hartley is going to focus more on the offense, my belief is that the sand in the hour glass has just about run out for Moss. It’s not a knock against him or even that he doesn’t fit in with the style of game the Flames are looking to play. His smarts on the ice would still be an asset for the team going forward, but at the same time, it’s pretty hard to get past the injuries.
Going forward there has to be a lot of guessing work going on around Moss: how good is his foot? Is he even now 100%, because the talk last year is that they didn’t even really know what was wrong with his foot, and why his injury wouldn’t heal according to any schedule, even after he had surgery on it.
I had the chance to talk to Craig Conroy during the World Junior Championships and when I asked about Moss, he replied with, “The problem with David is that he just takes so long to heal. He’s a very slow healer.” That sort of recuperation timetable has to have management a little nervous to risk another new contract on, when realistically they have a younger, speedier, more offensive option already in front of them.
Personally, I have always liked Moss. I have said for years that with his tenacity, the Flames should be spending the entire off-season with him planted in front of a net, learning to tip pucks. Teach him to do it so well that when the fans see the Flames play in their vintage jerseys, that they think they are watching Joe Nieuwendyk on the ice. That being said, there is a little voice in the back of my head that thinks the only way they choose to re-sign Moss, is if they can’t get Stempniak inked to a contract or they are both re-signed and one is packaged in a deal come July 1st.