Getty ImagesUNIONDALE, N.Y. -- In each of the past two seasons, New York Islanders forward Matt Moulson has finished in the top-25 in goals scored with 31 and 30, respectively. This season, he's surpassed his career highs in goals (36) and points (69) and will likely finish in the top-10 among NHL goal scorers.
And for the third straight season Moulson and his teammates won't be playing postseason hockey, thus giving him yet another opportunity to get the call from Hockey Canada to play in next month's World Championships in Finland and Sweden. He's been bypassed the last two springs, but having been the first Islander to record three straight 30-goal seasons since Ziggy Palffy in 1995-96 and establishing himself as a top scorer in the league, Team Canada GM Kevin Lowe should have an easy selection to make. (Heck, I'm sure Lowe watched Moulson's 3-point afternoon against his Edmonton Oilers when they played each other on Dec. 31.)
So was he disappointed getting overlooked after two strong seasons?
"It's always an honor to participate in a tournament to represent your country," said Moulson after Thursday's morning skate before their 5-4 win over the Winnipeg Jets. "There's a lot of of good players out there. I don't know [about] disappointed. I guess it's a win-win. You get to spend some time with your family and kind of relax over the off-season."
Moulson was a ninth round draft (No. 263 overall) by the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2003, but bounced around in the Los Angeles Kings organization for three seasons before signing a one-year deal with the Islanders in 2009. He quickly established himself scoring six times in the first 11 games of the season and ended up with 30. Two years later after tallying a career high 36 goal and signing a 3-year, $9.4 million extension last season, being settled within the Islanders' roster has been a key factor in his success.
"You're a lot more comfortable when you're confident," said Moulson. "Those two go hand in hand."
"I've been very fortunate to play with some great players while I've been here, for the most part P.A. [Parenteau]and Johnny [Tavares] and Okie [Kyle Okposo] at points this season. They've had great seasons themselves. But I'm not a guy that's going to go out there and dangle a couple guys and create scoring chances like that. I rely heavily on my linemates and the chemistry we have and the comfort level we have together. That's been the biggest thing."
With just one game left the Islanders' season, Moulson and his teammates would rather be discussing first round playoff matchups instead of things like the World Championships and next season. They'll once again wind up with a lottery pick, a product of a month-long period of inconsistency that dropped them out of serious playoff contention as head coach Jack Capuano noted on Thursday. It also didn't help that the Islanders will finish with a similar record at home, than on the road.
Moulson's career season has also seen his name brought up in the discussion of Lady Byng candidates. With just six penalty minutes, and an endorsement from USA Today's Kevin Allen, there's a good possibility the 28-year old Moulson will be headed to Las Vegas come late June.
"We'll see what happens," Moulson said. "I never count my chickens before they hatch."
Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy