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Better know a free agent: David Moss

The Coyote winger is a free agent heading into the offseason. Would the Coyotes be wise to bring him back to the pack for another go around? Or would they be better off looking elsewhere?

Should he stay or should he go now?
Should he stay or should he go now?
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

David Moss was an enigma before becoming a Coyote. He alternated good seasons with bad ones in Calgary and had problems staying healthy. He provided decent production (.19 goals per game and .39 points per game) for the Flames while playing low amounts of minutes. In short, he was a guy with the capability to produce, but couldn't produce consistently.

The Coyotes signed Moss to a two-year free agent deal worth 4.2 million dollars. But, as was the case in Calgary, Moss' production in Phoenix was maddeningly inconsistent. Moss actually had a pretty good first year in Sedona Red, netting five goals and 15 assists for 20 points in the lockout-shortened 2013 season. He was the Coyotes' eighth leading scorer that season, ranking sixth among forwards. In 2014, the production didn't really increase even though the number of games did. Moss had eight goals and 14 helpers this season, good for 22 total points but in 75 games played. This still made him the Coyotes 10th leading scorer (eighth among forwards), but clearly, 22 points isn't a good return on a $2.1 million investment.

Here's where things become problematic. Was Moss not productive, or was he simply unlucky? The advanced stats actually like Moss' game, as he has been a positive player in both Corsi for and Fenwick for in both of seasons in the Valley. In both of his seasons as a Coyote, the team was more likely to score when he was on the ice than not, although for 2014 it was only a .3% difference, so it was almost negligible. He also has had some trouble finishing as he had a shooting percentage of 6.1% last year and a staggeringly bad 5.3% this season. How bad is 5.3%? Only 12 other NHL forwards had at least 100 shots on goal this season and had a worse success rate than Moss, and of those 12 only 1, Thomas Fleischmann of Florida, attempted more shots than Moss' 151 (188). That's really tough, and one shouldn't expect another dismal season like that again, right? Not so fast, as Moss' PDO was actually 100.5, and the league normal rate is 100. So he wasn't incredibly unlucky in a statistical sense.

So where does that leave us in evaluating Dave Moss? He's an above average possession player who is a useful penalty killer (something this team certainly needs) that can't really be counted on to produce anywhere near a consistent basis. He's stayed healthy in a Coyote uniform, missing only six games in two years and he can play in all situations. He's an above average 4th line player and a middle-of-the-road third line guy at this stage of his career. If the Coyotes could get him to sign for less than his last contract, and given his production during this one it should be possible, he's a worthy re- signing candidate. If he won't sign for less than $2 million, the Coyotes won't be that much worse for wear.

If Moss is not re-signed, here are some possible free agent targets for the Coyotes to consider:

Daniel Winnik - The former Coyote had a career year for himself in Anaheim, totaling six goals and a career high 30 points. He's a useful penalty killer who knows the Dave Tippett system, but his big season might price him out of consideration on the open market. He was one of the the 12 forwards with a lower shooting percentage than Moss in 2014 though.

Benoit Pouliot - He revived his career with a nice season in the Big Apple, with 15 goals and a career high 36 points. He had a career best seven power play tallies as well. He would bring some much needed speed and scoring punch to the bottom forward groups, but at the expense of the penalty kill, as he sees almost no time there.

Steve Downie - Downie is a two-time 40-point guy who struggles to stay on the ice. He would give the Coyotes a more physical edge in the second group of forwards while still providing scoring punch, but again at the expense of penalty kill skill.

Dustin Penner - Pancakes is an interesting player to maybe take a flyer on. He has all the talent in the world, but has never been able to harness it for any extended time. He seemed to be making a mini career renaissance in Anaheim this season, with 13 goals and 32 points in 49 games, before being traded to the Capitals. He's a strong possession player, but again, not much of a penalty killer.

Michael Frolik - He would be the perfect guy to sign, but he's an RFA so, moving on.

Finally, the player I would most like to see the Coyotes target if Moss is allowed to walk:

Nikolai Kulemin - Kulemin is still only 27 years old (28 in July) and maybe a change of scenery would do him good. His possession numbers look gawdawful, but how much of that is him versus the Maple Leafs just not liking controlling the puck is tough to sift out. He's a guy with decent offensive potential, can play on the PK or PP and would probably look better on Ribeiro's wing than Moss did this season. Plus, with the numbers trending down over the last two seasons, he could probably be signed for less than $2.5 million a year, which would be doable for the Coyotes.