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Moulson feels future is bright for Islanders

by Emily Kaplan
Matt Moulson can't even count the number of times he's heard the question.

It seems that after Moulson, the Islanders' 27-year-old left wing, signed a three-year, $9.45 million extension with the team in the middle of last season, everyone wanted to know one thing: Why was a rising young star so adamant about staying on Long Island?

The answer is something Moulson can explain, but doesn't think people understand unless they're in the organization. They can listen, but they won't truly get it unless they're at practices, in meetings or around the team on a daily basis.

"More often than not, the people who asked me that question are people outside of the organization," Moulson said. "Sometimes the Islanders get a bad rep. The organization isn't as successful as they want it to be, or how it has been in the past. But that's fine with us. We know we have a lot of potential to do well, and I think we have a real bright future."

Moulson signed the extension because he truly enjoys being an Islander and likes the direction the team is going in.

New York has finished dead last in the Atlantic Division in each of the last four seasons, and has missed the playoffs in five of the last six seasons.

But Moulson wholeheartedly believes that in 2011-12, the Islanders will make the playoffs -- and he's sticking to that prediction, no matter what anyone else says.

"We're definitely a playoff team," Moulson said. "And I don't think we'll be satisfied with anything less than that."

Moulson, who has posted back-to-back 30-goal seasons since joining the Islanders as a free agent from Los Angeles in 2009, said he has seen an attitude shift within the team even in the two years he's been around.

"I think previously, it had just been everyone thinking, 'We want to make the playoffs,' " Moulson said. "Now, I think the attitude is, 'We're going to make the playoffs.' "

Last season, when the Islanders finished with just 30 wins, the team was crippled by injuries.

"I think we did a good job for the most part, even missing a lot of key guys," Moulson said. "We could have used that as an excuse. Some guys stepped in and did real well, and that shows something about the character we have."

On top of that, and what makes the future even more promising for the Islanders, is that New York will have a top-10 draft pick in this summer's Entry Draft for the fourth year in a row.

Two years ago, the Islanders had the No. 1 pick, choosing John Tavares -- now the center on the Islanders' top line, which also features Moulson. Last year, New York chose then-17-year-old Nino Niederreiter, who played nine games for the Islanders before playing the rest of this past season for the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL, tallying 41 goals and 29 assists for 70 points in 55 games.

With that, Moulson believes the Islanders have what it takes to be a top-eight team in the Eastern Conference come 2011-12.

"[General Manager Garth Snow], maybe he'll add a couple more pieces," Moulson said. "But with the guys we have now, that's our goal and we're not going to be satisfied until we get there."
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