When Matt Moulson walked into Nassau Coliseum on Tuesday morning, he did something that he'd never done before: He entered the building as an opponent.
In a shocking early-season trade, Moulson was dealt to the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for Thomas Vanek. The 30-year old forward was playing the final year of his contract with the Islanders and, given his chemistry over the years with Tavares, a trade was a surprise. Furthermore, shipping him out for another forward was a head-scratcher, giving the other needs of the team.
The deal caught Moulson off-guard, but extension talks with the Islanders never took off.
"At the time, I always believed that I would be here for the rest of my career," Moulson said Tuesday morning as the Minnesota Wild prepared to face the Islanders. "To not have any discussion about any future plans, that kind of caught me off guard. I always figured something would work out. I guess they didn't have the same plans."
After going to Buffalo, Moulson became another trade chip in new general manager Tim Murray's rebuild plans for the Sabres. On March 5, he was sent to the Wild, where he has a goal and an assist through six games.
"That's the business of hockey," he said.
Being dealt twice in the span of one NHL season isn't ideal for most players. "Hockey's the easiest part," Moulson said, as his wife was left to deal with taking care of their kids back home.
Given how cemented he was in the Islanders' lineup, Moulson didn't think a trade from Long Island would ever happen, but all players keep that thought in the back of their minds. He always believed an extension would get done one way or another, but Islanders GM Garth Snow had other plans, evidently.
Moulson will discuss his future destination with his family when he hits the unrestricted free agent market this July. Would he consider returning to the Islanders?
"It's been said that I wasn't in the future plans, so I don't think that will quickly change."
- - - - - - -