2012 UFA Targets: David Moss

While it was fun to fantasize about Semin yesterday (I think I nailed the phrasing there), more realistic options for the Sharks from this year's free agent class will likely come from the sizable pool of two-way forwards who would fit snugly into the team's bottom six both in terms of their likely cap hit and their abilities. Perhaps the best such forward available is the Flames' David Moss, a fantastic and criminally underrated two-way winger who has been a horse for Calgary throughout his career when healthy. "When healthy" are the key words here as the 6'4" right winger has only played in 90 games over the past two seasons combined and has only appeared in more than 60 games in a season twice over his six-year career. The bright side of his extensive injury history is that, although Moss sustained a concussion early in his career, he doesn't appear to suffer from PCS or any other underlying ailment; it's been an assortment of shoulder, ankle and leg injuries that have kept the Michigan native out of action. But when he's in the lineup, Moss provides tremendous value to the Flames as he often does the heavy lifting for the club at even-strength, drawing some of the opposition's best players and dominating them territorially. Flames Nation explains it best in their excellent UFA-season write-up on Moss:

What Moss brings to the Flames goes beyond his offensive production. While he may not register on the score sheet every night, when he is in the line-up, he definitely has an impact. Over the last three seasons, David has seen his offensive zone starts go down from 53.4 – 53.8 – 47.9; while his Corsi Relative has gone up from 3.0 – 7.1 – 10.3. He is a smart player that is capable of driving the play out of his own zone. An argument can be made that Moss’ absence might have had something to do with that problematic aspect of the Flames seasons, particularly last year.

That last sentence was the most intriguing to me so I decided to figure out what the impact of having Moss in the lineup was for the Flames last year. One of the best measures of team talent available is Fenwick Close, the percentage of even-strength shot attempts (goals, shots on goal and missed shots) a team earns out of the total number of shot attempts at both ends of the ice when the score is either tied at any time or within a goal in the first or second period. Over the 32 games that Moss skated for Calgary last season, the Flames were a 50.6% Fenwick Close team. Over the other 50 games of the season, the Flames were a Minnesota Wild-esque 45.6% in the Fenwick Close department. That's obviously a substantial swing (roughly the difference between, for example, the Pittsburgh Penguins and Florida Panthers over the full 11-12 season) and while it's quite a leap to suggest that one player alone is responsible, Moss was undoubtedly leading the way--when he was on the ice last year, the Flames were a 56.2% Fenwick Close team. That's even more impressive since, as Vintage Flame mentions in the quote above, he started over 52% of his non-neutral 5v5 shifts in the defensive zone and was facing an absurdly high quality of competition--third highest in the league, in fact, among players who appeared in at least 30 games. But of course, as great as that all is, it was only 32 contests. After the jump, we'll take a look at how Moss has performed over his entire career and whether the Sharks should look to sign him on July 1st.

David Moss Statistical Overview

Season GP DZone% Corsi Rel QoC Corsi Rel Corsi On 5v5 S/60 5v5 G/60 5v5 P/60
07-08 41 44.4% 0.29 +5.9 +11.8 7.5 0.56 1.55
08-09 81 46.7% 0.45 +15.7 +23.8 10.4 0.83 1.87
09-10 64 46.6% 0.70 +3.0 +7.5 8.9 0.41 0.98
10-11 58 46.2% 0.60 +7.1 +8.3 10.1 1.18 2.36
11-12 32 52.1% 2.00 +10.3 +6.9 12.4 0.33 1.47

DZone% = percentage of 5v5 shifts Moss began in the defensive zone, excluding those he started in the neutral zone; Corsi Rel QoC = a measure of the quality of opposing players Moss faced 5v5; Corsi Rel = Moss' on-ice Corsi number minus that of the Flames when Moss was not on the ice; Corsi On = Moss' on-ice Corsi number; 5v5 S/60 = Moss' 5v5 shots on goal per 60 minutes; 5v5 G/60 = Moss' 5v5 goals per 60 minutes; 5v5 P/60 = Moss' 5v5 points per 60 minutes

Moss has been a plus-possession player his entire career, both in terms of raw numbers and relative to his teammates. He's accomplished that while doing battle with above-average competition at even-strength every year after his sophomore campaign and has only improved in the face of dwindling offensive zone starts. While he isn't known for his scoring touch, he did score 20 goals in 08-09 and was on pace for 24 in 10-11 and did so without ever averaging so much as 2 minutes per game on the power play. His shot rate was also through the roof last season, granted in a small sample. There just isn't a lot to nitpick about Moss' career as a whole.
Except, of course, for the multitude of injuries. And that's what it's going to come down to with Moss; should Doug Wilson take a chance on a player who's missed 74 games over the past two seasons? It says here that he absolutely should. Even aside from Moss' injury history, front offices around the league that rely on surface stats to make personnel decisions may be turned off by his measly 2 goals last season, but that was entirely the result of a 2.4% shooting percentage that surely won't repeat itself for a player who sported a career 10.1% shooting percentage prior to last year. Taking a chance on Moss at a likely deflated cap hit in the $1.5-2 million range is the kind of seemingly minor but very good bet that pushes a franchise closer to a championship run. They're not all going to go your way but if this one does, the Sharks will have themselves a terrific, cost-effective third-liner who wouldn't look out of place on either side of the puck playing on the team's top two lines if necessary. Moss should be on San Jose's shortlist this Sunday.