Steve Moses is one step closer to his lifelong dream.
The Nashville Predators announced Thursday morning that they had inked the 25-year-old forward to a one-year, $1 million contract for the 2015-16 season. A native of Leominster, Massachusetts, Moses played for Jokerit of the Kontinental Hockey League this past season, scoring 36 goals to set a new, single-season KHL record.
But Moses, who began his professional career in Europe after completing a four-year collegiate stint at the University of New Hampshire in 2012, always wanted an opportunity to play in the NHL.
“It’s always been my goal to play in the NHL,” Moses said Thursday morning at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville. “This is the first step, so I’m obviously really excited.”
After Jokerit’s season concluded on March 19, the discussions with NHL clubs began to ramp up. Moses said he received interest from several NHL clubs, and as a free agent, he was able to explore multiple opportunities. For the winger, Nashville seemed like the perfect fit.
“I wanted to come to a place that has a chance to win,” Moses said. “[Nashville is] a great organization and a great team. There probably won’t be a whole lot of pieces [changing in the summer], so if they feel they can add one piece and help the team, that’s pretty exciting for me.
“I wanted to go to a place where I could play right away and contribute, and I think, hopefully, that’s kind of what their plan is. We’ll see what happens next season, but like I said, it was important to me to go to a place that I think has a chance to be a winning team. This team is already that way, and if they feel that I can come in and help and make the team better, then it’s really exciting for me and something that I definitely will embrace.”
At 5-foot-9 and 172 pounds, Moses is aware that he’s not the largest player on the ice, but believes that Nashville’s style of play could benefit his skillset.
“I like to shoot the puck; I like to create offense, and I’ve been a goal scorer for the majority of my career,” Moses said. “That’s what I like to do, but I’m definitely not going to shy away from anything as a smaller guy. The way Nashville plays, pushing the pace and forechecking and trying to create offense, I think that’s a big part of why I chose to come here and that’s the game I like to play.”
And while Moses may get his first taste of NHL action this autumn, it won’t be the first time he’s played with or against NHLers on the same sheet of ice.
Moses’ first year of professional hockey coincided with the NHL lockout to begin the 2012-13 season. As a result, the forward signed a deal with Jokerit, then of the Finnish Elite League, also a spot where out-of-work NHLers were landing.
Moses skated with players like Ottawa defenseman Erik Karlsson and Tampa Bay forward Valtteri Filppula, as well as against high-caliber players night after night. The experience gained from sharing a locker room with those players, Moses believes, will only help with his latest opportunity.
“The level of play in the Finnish League was very high [that season], so that’s kind of how I started my career as a pro,” Moses said. “I was able to learn a lot from those guys that were on my team, and also the guys I was playing against, so it was good timing in a way and I really enjoyed my time over there.”
Even during that season the desire to play in the NHL never wavered from Moses, who always believed the chance would come one day. After a 36-goal and 60-point season in the KHL, that dream is now closer than ever before.
“I never shied away from the fact I wanted to come back [to North America],” Moses said. “I wanted to play in the NHL, and I maintained that whenever anybody asked me about it. This is certainly something that I’ve been thinking about a lot and it’s a dream come true.”