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2014 Report Card: Dominic Moore helps revive the Rangers fourth line

Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Dominic Moore was originally drafted by the Rangers in 2000. After spending two seasons in New York, Moore bounced around the league, playing for nine teams in eight years. After taking off the 2012-2013 season following the passing of his late wife Katie, Dominic return to action this season back in the Big Apple. And while his signing marked the Rangers rounding out their fourth line, Moore made a major impact for the Blueshirts this season.

Defensive zone and special teams

In the ever-changing NHL, Moore embodied the qualities a team should want out of a fourth-liner: defensively accountable, strong on the penalty kill, and a player who can hem the other team in deep by driving possession. While many would not have handicapped the trio of Moore, Brian Boyle, and Derek Dorsett/Daniel Carcillo to have a major influence this season that was far from the case. Moore had nearly half of his zone starts come in the Rangers' end in 5v5 play. New York's regularly reliable penalty kill was up to its own standard this season, even after trading away the services of PK stalwart Ryan Callahan (Moore was a big reason why the PK sustained its level of success). Moore was also the strongest Ranger in the faceoff dot, winning 54 percent off his draws, a huge deficiency for the team in seasons past, but also why Alain Vigneault was able to award him so many d-zone starts (only Boyle started more frequently than Moore in the defensive zone, and that was by a fraction of a percentage point).

What this all also meant was Vigneault had more freedom in how he could match up against opposing teams at home. Consider this: When the Rangers were eliminated by the Bruins in the 2013 playoffs, the New York forwards on the ice for Boston's game-winning goal were Kris Newbury, Michael Haley, and Dorsett. It was the Bruins fourth line—as it had all series—that tallied and sent the Rangers packing, with Gregory Campbell netting the decisive goal. But fast-forward to this season, and not only was the Rangers fourth unit outplaying other team's bottom threes, it was also more than holding its own against top competition.

The occasional, important goal

While the expectation wasn't for Moore to fill up the scoresheet, as the season dragged on, he seemed to have a knack for doing so in big moments. Moore scored three goals in the playoffs, including the lone goal against Montreal in Game 6 to send the Rangers to the Stanley Cup. That entire shift leading up to the goal is a pretty good example of the puck work mentioned in the previous section. Moore's two other postseason goals came against the Flyers in round one. But more to his credit, the 33-year-old forward picked up the primary assist on a key goal in Game 7 against the Penguins, and always just seemed to be in the right place at the right time in big moments.

Contract status

Moore returned to the Rangers this season on a one-year, $1 million deal. The most Moore has made his entire career in a single season is $200,000 above that number. So in plain English: It would behoove the Rangers to bring Moore back for the same figure. Again, he's not a flashy offensive player, but his contributions extend far beyond that, and, the need for the kind of fourth line the Rangers employed this year is becoming more and more apparent. Should the Rangers not bring Moore back next season, it's likely someone in the system could center the fourth line, but again, for what he'll command money wise, it seems like a no-brainer to retain him.