Player: Dominic Moore
Cap Hit Outlook: Unrestricted Free Agent in 2016-2017
Status: Bottom Six Center
2015-2016 G-A-P: 6-9-15 in 80 GP
Dominic Moore has been a fourth-line staple for the Alain Vigneault-era New York Rangers, not to mention the ultimate professional. His journey, perseverance and ability to continue playing hockey at all in the wake of such devastating personal tragedy have been truly awe-inspiring, and there’s certainly a sense of connection and family between Dom and the New York faithful. In terms of the future of the club, however, Dom Moore’s contract has expired at the ideal moment. His on-ice production, while never necessarily jumping off the page, is now failing the eye-test as well. As a fourth line “grinder,” the perfect fit for the Blueshirts moving forward is a youthful, high energy guy with a physical edge who will get in behind the net and wear out opponent D-men; more or less the opposite of what Dom Moore currently brings to the table. He’ll be 36 years old at the commencement of the 2016-2017 season, has played for nine different teams in his 11 years of NHL experience, and his play has fallen off to the point where the decision on his future at the club seems to rival the easiest for GM Jeff Gorton and upper management to make (alongside that of “press room enforcer” Dan Boyle).
Dom’s most recent contract was a two-year deal signed in 2014 worth $1.5 million/year, money he earned grinding out gutsy wins and skating alongside whoever AV felt could contribute to the “dirty” areas of the game. While the carousel of line-mates could’ve gotten under his skin and hindered his game, Moore continued to play well, earning accolades from his teammates, coaches and writers as recently as January of 2016 for “compete level” and “playing THAT hard” (emphasis added). However, this level and character of play disappeared down the stretch, as it did for the rest of the Rangers nearly across the board. Although Dom Moore shouldn’t be blamed unilaterally, the more recent on-ice showcase, combined with an expiring deal and a real urgency to inject youth and long-term change into a somewhat decrepit lineup only lead to one logical conclusion; it’s time to move on from Dom.
There are a myriad of ways to go about upgrading fourth-line play for next year and beyond. Upper management could look internally and promote an upstart with some skill and size on a newly minted pro deal, such as Cristoval “Boo” Nieves or Adam Tambellini following training camp. Admittedly, this mold of player would be better suited to play a skill game, and a move to the fourth line would require months of living in the weight room along with a tough, imposing winger by their side. Pending a decision about his RFA status, they could also look to demote a guy like Kevin Hayes, who turned into a shell of himself as compared to the player he was during his rookie campaign. However, the best bet may be to spend the Dom Moore money coming off the books on a true do-it-all bottom-six center with youth, speed, penalty kill expertise, and the ability to pot a few opportune goals every once in awhile. The perfect fit for the bill? Unrestricted, 25 year old center Riley Nash, formerly of the Carolina Hurricanes. More to come on him soon.