Lost a bit in all the other news over the weekend was the departure of long time Flame David Moss. The oft-injured but always effective winger signed in Phoenix for $4 million over two years. At 30-years old and always a bad hit away from the infirmary, it made some sense for the Flames to seek other options on the right side. Still, the team will miss his uncanny ability to move the puck in the righr direction every night.
Moss was one of the extreme rarities in the league – a former 7th round pick who made a career in pro hockey that exceeded the AHL and occasional injury call-ups. What’s even more unique is that he was a Flames homegrown prospect: you can count on one hand the amount Calgary forward prospects who appeared in more than 300 NHL games (Kobasew, Lombardi, Nystrom Moss) and only David did it all in a Flames jersey.
His path to the NHL was long and winding. Moss was picked out of the USHL in 2001. He went on to play for the University of Michigan for four years before turning pro with the Omaha Knights in 2005. Moss was never a notable scorer in college hockey, but he had a pretty good rookie season with the Flames affiliate that year, managing 21 goals and 48 points – good for third on the team in scoring (Mark Giordano led everyone with 58 points that year).
Moss would only spend 28 games in the AHL during his sophomore year, gathering 9-goal and 21-points. He would make the big club that season for good due to a confluence of favorable circumstances: first, he was recalled due to a swath of injuries afflicting the Flames. Second, Moss managed to score a goal in each of his first three games, including a game winner over the Vancouver Canucks. He was the first player ever in Calgary Flames history to score three goals in consecutive games to start his career.
He stuck with the big boys for good and finished the year with 10 goals and 18-points in 41 games.
Despite the notable outburst at the onset of his NHL career, Moss never became any sort of sniper. Not blessed with great hands or offensive acumen of any kind, Moss nevertheless developed into an invaluable support player for the club. In 2008-09, he combined with Curtis Glencross and Craig Conroy to form perhaps the best third line in the NHL. That sounds like hyperbole, but the trio put together the best possession numbers of any Flames unit since we began tracking corsi stats. Moss himself led the team with a +23.79/60 rate, a number that placed third overall in the league that year.
Although he would never reach those heights again, Moss proved to consistently one of the best players on the club at driving play. In 2009-10, he was second amongst regular Flames forwards behind Daymond Langkow. In 2010-11, he was third behind Jackman and Backlund. Last year, he was first.
And that was the magic of David Moss. Despite possessing no particularly notable skill, he was dependable as snow in the winter, as regular as a metronome. When healthy, Moss was the guy the coach could count on to always make the smart play at the blueline or win the puck battle in the corner. He never scored highlight reel goals and he didn’t crush opponents with highlight reel hits. All he did was keep the puck in the offensive zone. And though his career high was just 39 points, make no mistake – the team is going to miss him.
Good luck in the desert David. We in Calgary wish you well.