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Moulson brings leadership to rebuilding team

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BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The setting might be new for forward Matt Moulson after he joined the Buffalo Sabres on Monday. The uncertainty about his future beyond this season hasn't changed.

A day after being acquired in a trade with the New York Islanders, Moulson was unsure of whether Buffalo would be his last stop this season.

"I'm just going to take it day by day," said, Moulson, preparing to make his Sabres debut against Dallas later in the evening. Moulson scored twice for the Sabres in a 4-3 loss. "If it's for however long, a long period of time, a short period of time or whatever they have planned, I'm going to play and compete, play my game and try to help this team get wins."

Moulson's uncertainty stems from him being in the final year of his contract. That makes the 29-year-old eligible to test free agency next summer, when he's expected to attract lucrative offers.

The Islanders deemed the three-time, 30-goal scorer expendable by dealing Moulson and two draft picks in a trade to acquire Buffalo's leading scorer, Thomas Vanek, who is also in the final year of his contract.

Moulson could eventually find himself on the move again with Buffalo (3-10-1) in the process of rebuilding.

Though Moulson provides Buffalo someone capable of immediately filling Vanek's spot on the top line, the key to the deal for the Sabres was an opportunity to continue stockpiling draft picks. They acquired a first-round selection in 2014, and a second-rounder in 2015.

Intent on developing a young lineup that features four 18-year-olds, Buffalo has matched its worst start in franchise history. It's unclear yet how Moulson fits in the team's plans, which opens the possibility of the Sabres trading him to address additional needs.

In discussing the trade on Sunday, general manager Darcy Regier said Moulson "will address our current needs."

Moulson isn't in a position to complain.

"You can't really worry about those things too much," he said. "Obviously, when they come, it's a little bit of a whirlwind. I'm going to play my game, and I don't think that will change."

With eight goals, Moulson takes over the Sabres' lead.

In his seventh NHL season, Moulson developed his scoring touch over the previous four seasons on Long Island. He has scored 120 goals since 2009-10 to rank 10th among NHL players over that stretch.

Coach Ron Rolston noted Moulson has a reputation for being a good role model, which is something important in helping develop the Sabres youth.

"You lose somebody of the stature of Thomas Vanek, you have to be really be careful on who you bring in," Rolston said. "That helps set the culture that you have here."

Moulson is no stranger to rebuilding after being part of a similar process with the Islanders.

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 29, 2013 C4

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