There's nothing wrong with that price. It was a great deal. And it even worked out well in the regular season, as Moulson scored 6 goals and 13 points in 20 games, being a part of the Wild locking down a playoff spot.
But once the playoffs started? That's where things get a bit disappointing. He performed well in the first part of the Colorado series despite not having any points, but his possession game (while still very good on the whole) has slipped since the first few games, and is still not making an impact on the scoresheet. His 1 goal and 2 points now have him bouncing anywhere from the second to fourth lines, as he's struggling to find his game.
So, let's take a look through our Captain Hindsight goggles, see what these players have done since the trade deadline, and ask if the Wild made the best decision they could have.
Elephant in the room here: Given the ugliness that transpired between the Minnesota Wild and Marian Gaborik after 2008, it's entirely possible that the two sides have burned their bridges irreparably. To really make this deal in hindsight, we must assume that A#1) Fletcher hadn't soured on Gaborik, and B#2) Gaborik would have been willing to return to the Wild.
Let's assume both are true.
With Vanek, we're dealing with a much smaller sample size, as the Canadiens were fortunate enough to dispatch Tampa Bay in 4 short games. After leading the three players in the regular season (post-deadline) in shooting, he's slumped in that area since the playoffs had started. However, he's been a very positive influence on the Habs possession game in the playoffs, and he has scored 3 goals. As for the mediocre possession numbers in the regular season? A lot can be forgiven when you throw 11 shots on net every 60 minutes.
Matt Moulson is an interesting case. He arguably made the least impact of the three post-deadline, scoring the least amount of points, and generating the fewest amount of shots by far. But in the post-season? Getting it out of the way, the points are unimpressive, and the shots are good, but not incredible. But he's possessing the puck better than Gaborik, and out-shooting Vanek in the playoffs. The points aren't there, but the fancy stats tell us that they should be, at least to a much greater extent than we've seen so far.
Conclusion / The Eye Test
I still believe that Moulson has been better than what he's been getting on the scoresheet. I still think that acquiring Moulson as a rental at the deadline was a good move. But was it the best move?
I would probably lean towards no, looking at everything. Moulson is a very good hockey player, and he does score goals (these last 9 games notwithstanding). But Gaborik and Vanek do something that Moulson can't: Score easy goals. The Wild have plenty of guys who need to grind for goals, and Moulson adds to that. He doesn't match the element of speed and sniping ability Gaborik can bring, nor the overall offensive creativity that Vanek has. Those are the type of game-breaking qualities the Wild could really use against a team as skilled as the Blackhawks.
But it's hard to see the performances the other trade deadline acquisitions have made, and then look at Moulson's lack of points, and wonder if things could have turned out differently with a different deal.
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