When David Moss signed a one year contract in the offseason for the Arizona Coyotes, expectations were rather low. He was not expected to be a roster changer, or even part of the team's long-term plan. What he was expected to do was kill penalties, occupy a solid presence in the bottom six, and be a cheap yet quality forward signing for the Coyotes this year.
Pretty much nothing has gone right for him this year.
Out of 51 games the Coyotes have played so far this season, Moss has appeared in just 29. He missed the end of October, all of November, and the first week of December. He also only has two assists, and is posting some of the worst possession numbers of his entire career.
So what's ailing the Coyotes forward? Well, it's probably a combination of several factors.
Missing an entire month of play certainly didn't help Moss get off to a good start. Compounding the problem is where Moss got injured. He blocked a shot with his hand in a game against the Minnesota Wild on October 23rd, and although the team never disclosed what exactly the injury was, the length of time he missed suggests that it was some sort of bone fracture.
Even though Moss is back in the lineup and has been for a while, a bone injury to the hand undoubtedly has an effect on the speed and quickness of a wrist shot. For a 33 year old depth forward, losing additional zip on your shot can prove costly.
Moss hasn't scored this season, but it's not for lack of trying. According to Hockey-Reference.com, Moss has taken 50 shots, which makes him 3rd in the NHL for most shots taken this season without scoring, behind Colorado's Jan Hejda and New Jersey's Andy Greene, and he has the most shots without scoring of any forward in the league (the next closest forward is Manny Malhotra of Montreal, with 36 shots and zero goals). That gives Moss the ignominious shooting percentage of exactly 0%, and leaves him in the running for Puck Daddy's Gilles Marotte Trophy (a distinction won by another former Coyote: Derek Morris in 2013).
The complete inability to score is unusual for Moss. His career shooting percentage is 7.8%, and though in recent years he hasn't quite been able to reach that mark (5.3% last season and 6.1% the year before that), in his worst injury plagued season he still managed to shoot 2.4%. There have been numerous occasions this season where Moss whiffed on a one-timer or was not quite able to get a rebound. So some of Moss' frustration probably has to do with some bad luck.
Finally though, the way that Moss has been utilized this season has limited his ability to be effective. When he's on the ice 5v5, his teammates record a 48.1% Fenwick For percentage, while his opponents record a 50.5% Fenwick For percentage. Furthermore, his teammates account for just 27.7% of the team's total 5v5 time on ice. For comparison's sake, Antoine Vermette's teammates play about 30.6% of the team's 5v5 time on ice, and Martin Hanzal's teammates play about 29.8% of the team's 5v5 time.
What do those usage statistics suggest? Overall, Dave Moss and his teammates do not play as often as the rest of the Coyotes do, and when they do play, they tend to take fewer shot attempts than their opponents, which suggests they have the puck less often. Even so, a quarter of the team's even-strength minutes is still a decent amount of time to make something happen, and Moss is simply not getting it done.
So overall, it's been a nightmare season for Moss. It's possible that he could get off the scoring schneid as early as tonight, or Saturday, or maybe not at all this season. But it has certainly been a disappointing year for the American who turned down two years in the Swiss league for more time in the NHL.