The Coming Months Will Be Critical for Dominic Moore

Rangers fourth-line center Dominic Moore is an Unrestricted-Free-Agent after this season, and the team will soon need to make a decision on what to do with the 35-year-old forward. This is his third year with the Rangers since returning to the NHL. The center has been a key defensive player for the club, and depth point producer. The forward has still been serviceable, but if the club can’t sign the veteran for considerably less than his current rate of $1.5 million, then the club may be forced to let him walk over the off-season. For Moore to secure his spot with this team next year, he will have to be critical down the stretch, and into the playoffs.

The Anchor of the Fourth Line

Since arriving in New York for his second go-round with the club, Moore has proven that he has great defensive instincts, combined with an offensive skill set that allows him to keep any fourth-line afloat. With the Rangers knowing they have Moore there, they’ve been able to make changes to the line with confidence that he could get the job done. Moore currently averages 14:00 minutes per game, and has registered five goals with six assists. This output is considerably better than Moore’s usual line-mates Tanner Glass (three points in 34 games), and Daniel Paille (zero points in 12 games.)

Moore is usually a great defensive player, but every now and then he’ll make a great offensive play that makes me wonder why he isn’t in a more offensive role. In the past he’s been promoted to the third-line, but only on a temporary basis. He had one of those great offensive moments on February 10th, when he put a one goal game against the rival Penguins out of reach with a terrific snipe. Moore spoke about the goal after the game.

Moore for Your Money

The veteran forward is easily one of the Rangers most versatile players; he can provide depth scoring, can play a shut-down role, and is the teams best penalty-killer. Moore plays 2:22 per-game in short-handed situations, which is more than any other Rangers forward. He also gets the call when the team needs to win a face-off, as his 56.6 face-off percentage is best on the Rangers. That being said it looks to me like Moore’s age is starting to show. In his last four games, Moore is a -3, and his overall play on the penalty-kill has been just good, not great. The point is that he’s a player on the decline, and while the Rangers certainly need him this season for the playoffs, they may not be able to invest more money into him for the next season.

The other option that the Rangers have, is to deal him. Guys like Moore get moved all the time at the trade deadline, and a player with his experience, and ability could bring the Rangers back some of the critical assets that they’ve dumped in past seasons.

My Take

Moore is one of my favorite players to watch; he’s so intense, and consistent, that he makes it hard not to appreciate all of the things he does. The reality is that he probably doesn’t end up back with the Rangers next year because he is a bit pricey, and his play is starting to decline. Of course, a good playoffs can change that, just look at Bryan Bickell. If Moore can find a way to bring in some extra points he could force the Rangers hand on a new contract. One area where he will have that opportunity is on the penalty-kill. The team currently has one short-handed goal on the season, so a boost there will stand out.