Matt Moulson’s year has been a disaster. He has just one goal in the last 52 games, a stretch that includes a 44-game drought.
Moulson says a lack of confidence has mostly contributed to his woes. Sabres General Manager Tim Murray says insufficient work is to blame.
“I see a player that maybe has neglected some things in the last couple years as far as how workouts are changing, how we as an organization are changing with our young players and even our players on the team,” Murray said Thursday during his weekly appearance on WGR-AM 550. “He’s sat up through some tough conversations. He’s sat up and taken notice, and I would say in the last five to six weeks he has been our hardest-working guy after games in the gym.
“We have a plan. We don’t expect to see results tomorrow. We’ve talked to his agent. We’ve talked to him. We’ve talked to our strength and conditioning staff. He doesn’t miss an optional skate anymore. He doesn’t miss a postgame workout anymore. So he’s taking this real serious. He doesn’t just want to go away.
“This is almost like coming off an injury where we’ve changed his daily routine, his workouts, his pregame, postgame, day off. He’s bought into this like a young player. Bad habits creep in. Bad habits creep in in all walks of life. We’ve addressed it. He’s addressed it. He’s stepped up.”
Moulson on Friday denied slacking off previously.
“I don’t think my workout’s changed very much,” he said in First Niagara Center. “I train extremely hard in the summers. I just think it was a case of I kind of lost my confidence and building that back up by the way I’m working. I don’t think my workouts have really changed. I’ve taken my off-ice performances pretty seriously my entire life, so I don’t think that really has changed.”
Informed of Murray’s words, Moulson said, "OK." Asked if he has neglected things, Moulson said: “There’s always room for improvement, so maybe I decided to improve some things.”
Moulson is in the second season of a five-year, $25 million deal. With just five goals and 15 points in 63 games, he’s entered buyout conversations, though it would be a costly one to the Sabres. According to GeneralFanager.com, he would count $2.88 million against the Sabres' salary cap the next two seasons and $3.88 million in 2018-19, which is when Buffalo hopes to be a contender and spending near the cap.
“The long-term goal is to have him better and able to produce starting next September in training camp, but it has started now,” Murray said on the radio. “The extra work has started now. We know it won’t pay off, like I say, tomorrow, but I fully expect he’ll come back better next year.
“I don’t expect to see a drastically different but I expect to see a different, more competitive Matt Moulson next season.”
Moulson wants to remain in the long-term plans.
“I love this city and this organization,” he said. “Like I said, I’m obviously trying to put in the work to where I want to be. It wasn’t going to happen overnight. I’m trying to build that back up.
“All situations are different. Some times are a little tougher than others.”