Matt Moulson remembers how thrilled he was to make the Los Angeles Kings out of training camp last year and also the disappointment of a demotion to the minors after a rough start to the season.
He's determined to not let the latter happen again this year.
Moulson, who signed a one-year contract with the Islanders in July, has had a strong training camp and impressed the coaching staff, leading the team in goals with three in three games.
"Matt's done everything you could do as a player to win a spot on this team," coach Scott Gordon said. "He has not only put himself in positions to score, he's been good killing penalties and finishing his checks. He's got versatility. He's not just a one-dimensional player."
Moulson, who trained this summer with the Lightning's Martin St. Louis, received some sage advice from the All-Star winger about heading into camp with a new organization.
"Just relax," St. Louis advised him. "Treat this like an AHL camp."
That wasn't easy for Moulson in his first preseason game, when he said he was "playing a million miles per hour," trying to acclimate to a new system and make an impression on a new coaching staff. However, in his second game - against Calgary on Thursday - Moulson settled in and became more comfortable, netting two goals in the Isles' shootout loss.
"It was definitely good just for my confidence," Moulson said.
That confidence carried over into Sunday night's game against Edmonton, when Moulson scored his third goal in as many games as he capitalized on a nice centering feed from John Tavares to put one past Devyn Dubnyk in the second period.
"We knew coming in he could score goals," Gordon said. "He's stepped up and had a good showing. And he's getting better every day."
Moulson, who had 21 goals and 26 assists in 54 games with the Kings' AHL affiliate Manchester Monarchs last season, said he feels like he can thrive within Gordon's fast-paced system.
"It's a very go-go, active way of playing, an aggressive type of style that forces the other team to make mistakes and create turnovers," Moulson said. "I feel like it suits me perfectly."
How does he feel about his chances of making this team?
"Hopefully, good. I don't think I'd be here if they don't think I can," Moulson said. "I don't only want to make this team, I want to help this team win."