DENVER — Even if the Sabres wanted to trade Matt Moulson in the next week – and his agent isn’t sure they were going to – an injury has put a halt to that.
Moulson, one of Buffalo’s top scorers and trade assets, is expected to be out until after the Olympic break due to an upper-body injury. He was slashed and pushed into the boards Thursday during the Sabres’ win in Phoenix, and he was in severe pain well after the game.
The prognosis improved Friday, but the left winger will still miss the next four games, including today’s matinee against the Colorado Avalanche. The NHL starts a 2½-week break Friday, with the Sabres returning to action Feb. 25. That’s Moulson’s target date.
“It doesn’t look like it’s really too, too serious,” Sabres coach Ted Nolan said. “He took a pretty good bang, so it looks possibly that he’ll be out till after the Olympic break.”
Injuries are not good any time, but Moulson’s ailment comes as the NHL prepares for Friday’s Olympic roster freeze. Some teams are said to be eager to make moves prior to the traditional trade deadline of March 5.
Moulson, a pending unrestricted free agent, is on the trade market.
“I am aware that managers have been talking and are maybe trying to do something prior to this freeze, but in Matt’s case I’m not sure anything was or would get done anyway,” Moulson’s agent, Wade Arnott, told The News by phone. “It’s something that we can’t control anyway, so to that end we’re not overly concerned about it.”
While Moulson has enjoyed his time in Buffalo since arriving in late October, Arnott said there have not been discussions with the Sabres about a contract extension.
“I suspect that maybe along the way we will, but to date we really haven’t had any substantial talks regarding Matt,” Arnott said. “He’s enjoyed playing for the team. He knows that they’re in a little bit of a rebuild time period, but he’s excited about the future, the new management, the new ownership. He says a lot of positive things about his short time in Buffalo.”
He probably doesn’t have a lot of good things to say about the last game.
Moulson was whacked and shoved by Coyotes captain Shane Doan with six minutes left in the Sabres’ 3-2 victory. The light slash caught Moulson on the left arm, and he crashed into the boards with his left shoulder leading the way. He crawled to the Buffalo bench while favoring the affected side.
“I was just hoping he got the puck in, then all of a sudden, I watched it afterwards, a little whack on the stick and a hit into the boards,” Nolan said. “It was just one of those freaky things that happened.
“He’s been playing really well. He’s really buying into what we’re doing here, and he’s leading the team.”
Moulson, serving as an alternate captain, picked up an assist against the Coyotes to run his season totals to 15 goals and 33 points in 51 games. He has nine goals and 24 points in the 40 games since Buffalo acquired him from the New York Islanders.
Moulson skated on the first line Thursday with center Tyler Ennis and right wing Zemgus Girgensons.
“It’s going to be a big loss for us, but like every other team someone has to step up,” Nolan said.
It appears Brian Flynn will get the chance against the Avalanche. Injured Drew Stafford won’t be ready to return today, so Flynn could jump from the fourth line to the first. He has four goals and eight points in 51 games.
“One thing about Flynner, he’s a versatile guy,” Nolan said. “He can go from fourth line to your top line. He’s very versatile, so we could look at a possibility of putting him in there for a game or two.”