Each day from now until July 1, the day free agency begins, Sarah Baicker and Tim Riday will profile some of the NHL's top impending free agents and project their likelihood of signing with the Flyers.
Matt Moulson, left wing
Last team: Minnesota Wild
2013-14 cap hit: $3.1 million
Moulson has emerged as one of the most consistent goal scorers in the NHL over the past few seasons. After the 2011-12 campaign, he became the first New York Islander since Zigmund Palffy to record three consecutive 30-goal seasons. He registered 14 goals and 44 points during the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season and continued to show terrific chemistry with Islanders star center John Tavares. But the Isles decided to go in a different direction last year and traded Moulson to the Buffalo Sabres early in the season. He was dealt again at the trade deadline, this time to the Minnesota Wild. Between the three clubs, he collected 23 goals and 28 assists in 75 games played.
Although he is known for his offensive skills, Moulson is also very good in the defensive zone. He uses his speed often to break up odd-man rushes and is sound positionally. He can play in every game situation and is actually an underrated passer. He's blessed with great hands and is tough to knock off the puck. He's not the biggest winger in the league, but he's incredibly durable. He's missed just eight games since becoming a full-time player in 2009.
The Flyers are in need of a sizable, solid left wing who can put up consistent numbers and possibly play top-line minutes ... and Moulson can be that guy. He's not the most exciting name on the free-agent market, he's not the fastest or the biggest or the flashiest, but that might be part of why he could work in Philadelphia -- he probably won't drive up a bidding war. The issue here isn't the kind of player Moulson is; he could most likely perfectly fulfill a very glaring need on offense here. The issue, instead, is that the Flyers simply lack cap space. They should make a move for Moulson, but can only do so by clearing enough cap space to go after him in the first place. Whether GM Ron Hextall is capable of making enough room is anyone's guess at this juncture.
Moulson is an extremely intriguing option for the Flyers. He's not going to get the same type of payday that Marian Gaborik or Thomas Vanek will receive on the open market, but he will more than likely command more than the $3.1 million he made last season. Moulson wasn't a fit with the Wild and struggled in the postseason, picking up just three points in 10 games. But he is still a very talented winger who is capable of playing top-line minutes. He was a 30-goal scorer skating alongside Tavares. He could definitely put up similar numbers with Claude Giroux. With that said, the Flyers don't have a lot of money to play with. It's also difficult to gauge how much Moulson is worth. He's coming off a down season, in which he played for three teams, and will turn 31 in November. If the Flyers could shed some salary, I'd love to see them make a play for Moulson. That is, of course, if the price is right.