Dallas Stars 2015-16 Impact Player Rankings #23 - Travis Moen
Does the veteran grinder have one more good year left in him?
When measuring what sort of potential impact that winger Travis Moen on the Dallas Stars in 2015-16, one might have to focus more on what he can contribute off the ice than what he can on it.
With all due respect to Moen, at this point in time it's hard to envision him playing a very large role on the Stars next season. Acquired in a trade with the Montreal Canadiens early last year, Moen would only suit up in 34 games for Dallas, with the rest of his time spent either injured or as a healthy scratch. When he did make it into the lineup he was limited to a 4th line role and the lowest time on ice per-game among all players on the team, at an average of 9:03.
With 14 NHL-ready forwards (counting Curtis McKenzie and Brett Ritchie) and eight (or more?) defensemen all capable of earning full-time roster spots, it seems very likely that Moen's role with the team will only decrease next season, not increase.
Now, that isn't to say that Moen won't still be able to contribute in some ways.
With 724 games played at the NHL level and a Stanley Cup championship on his resume, Moen is a perfect fit for the role as a veteran mentor for the team's younger players. As someone that built his NHL career out of hard work and determination as opposed to raw skill, he has plenty of experience that he can pass along. Even if he spends most of the Stars' 82 game nights watching from up in the press box he'll still be with the team in practice, in the dressing room and elsewhere behind the scenes, helping players like McKenzie and Ritchie learn what it's like to be be a professional at the sport's highest level. Shawn Horcoff helped out in this area last season, but with his departure over the summer it'll be up to Moen, one of the oldest players on the team, to pick up some of that slack.
All of that being said, though, Moen might still have more gas left in the tank than a lot of Stars fans think.
Sure, he only put up a total of nine points in the 34 games that he played for the Stars, and according to War On ice his 46.39 Corsi-For Percentage was the lowest among all forwards on the team, but there are still some encouraging signs that can be found when digging a little deeper.
According to Stats.HockeyAnalysis.com, Moen put up some respectable possession numbers while playing with Vern Fiddler (49.1%) and Colton Sceviour (49.2%) despite tough zone starts. While it's hard to completely predict how Dallas' lines will look next season, a trio of Moen, Fiddler and Sceviour as the team's 4th line is something that is very likely to happen at some points and could become a normal occurrence. If they can continue to put up similar possession numbers while starting primarily in the defensive zone then that's really not bad at all for a 4th line.
Additionally, as I wrote about recently, the Stars will need a forward, or forwards, to play more minutes on the penalty kill with Ryan Garbutt gone, and Moen is a very considerable candidate for the position.
And although the importance of fighting in hockey is steadily starting to fade away, having a player like Moen that is willing and able to drop the gloves could provide a benefit to his team in some circumstances.
All things considered, Stars fans probably shouldn't expect too much out of Travis Moen for next season. But hey, that isn't to say that he might not still have surprises left in store: