Steve Moses (via KHL/YouTube)
Steve Moses, the KHL’s single season goal-scoring record-holder, signed a one-year deal with Nashville in the off-season, but he could be heading back to Russia. The Predators have placed Moses on unconditional waivers after a tough start to his season in the AHL.
One of the more intriguing free agents coming over from the KHL this off-season was Steve Moses, the 26-year-old sniper who tore up the primarily Russian league in 2014-15 and set the league’s goal-scoring record with 36 tallies in 60 games with Finnish KHL team Jokerit.
Moses’ outstanding season landed him offers from North America, and he ended up signing a one-year, $1-million deal with the Nashville Predators. But Moses didn’t end up making the Predators out of training camp and was subsequently sent to the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals. While he was never a sure-thing to make the NHL club, it was believed he could at least contribute in a depth role. But now he's on his way out.
In the AHL, Moses couldn’t quite catch on. He played 16 games with the Admirals this season and mustered two goals and seven points, but his tenure in North America seems to be coming to an end as the Predators placed Moses on unconditional waivers Thursday.
Moses made clear his want to be in the NHL during a November interview with Penalty Box Radio’s Justin Bradford, when he said things hadn’t gone his way so far in 2015-16.
“I came back with hopes of playing in the NHL,” Moses told Penalty Box Radio. “Obviously, it hasn’t gone the way that I planned, but that’s sports. That’s the way life goes, too. It’s definitely a situation where [I’ve] got to keep working hard.”
It's not surprising that Moses didn't get a look in the NHL considering his production in the AHL, but it's interesting that he's leaving with close to 75 percent of the season remaining. It could be argued that he was still adjusting to the change in style and change in the size of the playing surface. Moses has speed to burn, but the tighter-checking North American style made it more difficult for him to utilize it.
But to leave so soon is to pass on what could have been a potential breakout at some point this campaign that could have gotten him a shot at a call up to the Predators. Some players take a while to adjust to the AHL -- last season, Chicago's Teuvo Teravainen said his playing style couldn't mesh with the NHL and he was a breakout player for the Stanley Cup-winning Blackhawks months later. Maybe Moses had something similar in him were he given a chance or stuck it out longer.
That said, Moses and his agent likely knew what the chances of Moses getting a call to the big club was. After all, he has watched as Cody Bass, Viktor Arvidsson, Colton Sissons and Miikka Salomaki were called up ahead of him.
Should Moses return to the KHL, it wouldn't be surprising. The seeds had been planted for his return two weeks ago when his KHL rights were traded from Jokerit, where he played three seasons, to SKA St. Petersburg. Once he clears waivers Friday afternoon, Moses will officially be able to sign back in the KHL. Nothing is official yet, but it seems as though Moses is likely to head to St. Petersburg and continue his campaign with SKA.
In SKA, Moses will attempt to help St. Petersburg leap his former team in the Bobrov Division. More than half the KHL campaign is through and St. Petersburg sits seven points back of Jokerit for the division lead. The SKA roster includes former NHLers Ilya Kovalchuk, Alexei Ponikarovsky, Evgeny Artyukhin and Slava Voynov.
Prior to the season beginning, Moses took part in the World Championship with Team USA. He was able to contribute one goal and two points at the tournament and helped the US squad take home a bronze medal.