Steven Moses’ Winding Road Through Professional Hockey

Author: Spencer Walker for PHPA.com
Date: Oct 24, 2017

The career of a professional hockey player can be a roller coaster ride with many twists and turns along the way in hopes of making it to the NHL.  The journey for Steven Moses has been no different.  Although he’s been playing at the professional level for the past seven years throughout North America and Europe, he’s back in the American Hockey League and still yearns to accomplish more.

Moses spent his junior hockey career with the Boston Jr. Bruins of the Eastern Junior Hockey League, scoring 96 points in 97 games.  Growing up in Massachusetts, college hockey was very prevalent in the area.  Moses spent a lot of his childhood at the rink and made it a goal of his from a young age to one-day play college hockey.

In 2008, Steven Moses made his goal a reality, suiting up for the University of New Hampshire (UNH) where he would study business with a focus on finance. Moses would go on to complete a four-year career at UNH, tallying 98 points in 148 games, and credits his time there for allowing him to put in the work needed to reach the next level.

“I was a small kid growing up in my teens, it took me a little bit of time to develop physically and put a little weight on so it was nice to go to college. It was a little less hockey, which I think is a negative thing.  You only play 35-40 games but it gives you a chance to train hard in the gym and learn how to put some weight and muscle on. So in that sense I was really able to mature physically while I was at school.”

Following his senior season at UNH, Moses signed a try out agreement with the New York Rangers and was assigned to their American Hockey League affiliate, the Connecticut Whale, where he gained valuable professional experience.

“Connecticut was a great learning experience.  I was young and still in school. I was getting work sent to me by my professors so it was a really cool time. Obviously playing your first pro game, scoring your first pro goal are things that you remember.  I think it really prepared me for the following season, my first full year of pro.”

However, with an NHL lockout looming the following season, Moses had his eyes set on Europe.  Knowing that the AHL would be log jammed with NHL quality players Moses signed a 1-year contract with Jokerit of the Finnish Liiga.  He enjoyed a successful first professional season, scoring 22 goals and adding 16 assists in 55 games, finishing second in team scoring.

“I signed a one-year contract with Jokerit when I first went over there and it ended up being the best thing that happened to me,” said Moses.  “I always had intentions of coming back to North America and it was always my goal.  The first year was really good and I was playing well and felt like I needed some more time there so I signed an extension to stay with Jokerit.  I loved the city and the organization so I was happy to stay there.”

After signing a 2-year extension, Moses appeared in 42 games in 2013-14 notching 12 goals and 11 assists. The following season he was faced with a unique situation.

Prior to the 2014-15 season, Jokerit announced that it would be joining Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League (KHL). Teams changing leagues is rare in professional sports and Moses became one of the few players to experience what it was like to be on a team that changed leagues.

“It was complicated, players had multi-year contracts which were all essentially void.  I had signed a multi-year contract after my first year, the second year of which was void because the team was joining the KHL.  I ended up singing a new one-year contract to play with Jokerit in the KHL.”

The move to the KHL provided a challenging transition for Moses. “Of course the KHL is a more competitive league. It’s a big difference from playing in the Finnish league to the KHL.  Travel is a lot different, the logistics of the league is more similar to the NHL, flying to every game and staying in hotels for long road trips. That was an adjustment for everyone.  It was fun being part of that team that joined the KHL because we had a great team and had a lot of success.”

In his first KHL season, Moses scored 36 goals, setting a single season KHL goal scoring record.  He also added 21 assists to tally 57 points in 60 games, the best year of his career to date.

His on-ice success did not go unnoticed by NHL scouts.  Following a career year, Moses earned the opportunity to return to North America for a chance to fulfill his childhood dream of playing in the NHL.  Although he had several offers, Moses had specific criteria for how he would select his new home.

“The quickest way I sorted through the offers was giving priority to teams that were willing to give me a 1-way deal.  There were a number of teams that were willing to do that.” Moses was not interested in a rebuild, instead electing to sign with the Nashville Predators. “Nashville was really the only playoff team in that group. They went to the playoffs and lost to Chicago in 6 or 7 games the year before. They made the case they didn’t want to make many changes, they wanted to bring me in and that’s about it.”

Heading into his first season with an NHL contract, Moses hoped to have an impressive showing at training camp.  “Training camp didn’t go as planned.  No hard feelings, that’s just the way it goes in sports.” Moses was assigned to the Milwaukee Admirals of the AHL where he recorded 7 points in 16 games.  However, Moses’ time in the AHL was short lived. Having originally turned down significantly more money to sign with the Predators, Moses made a financial decision to return to the KHL.

While in North America, Moses’ KHL rights were bought from Jokerit by powerhouse St. Petersburg.  When Moses returned to the KHL, he found himself playing alongside former NHL stars Ilya Kovalchuk and Pavel Datsyuk. Playing with two future Hall of Famers was a special moment in Moses’ hockey career which gave him the opportunity to watch and learn from some of the best.

“The was great, it was really an honor to play with just not those two but we had a tremendous team, some of the best Russian players in the world are playing in St. Petersburg which is evident by their success this season and our success last year.”

After three seasons with St Petersburg, Moses made the decision to return to North America, signing an American Hockey League contract with the Rochester Americans, the AHL affiliate of the Buffalo Sabres.  Although Moses enjoyed his time in the KHL, he was not satisfied with his first stint in North American professional hockey, and felt as though the time was right to give it another shot.

“I wasn’t fully satisfied with the amount of time I gave it last time when I signed with Nashville.  I just thought if there was ever going to be another chance I wanted to put my best foot forward and give it another shot and be satisfied with that before I turn the page and continue to play in Europe at some point.”

With the NHL electing to skip the upcoming Winter Olympics, it was not a deciding factor in his decision to return home from Russia, but admits it did have an impact on the type of contract he was willing to sign.  Players on NHL 2-way contracts are not eligible to play in the Olympics, however, players on AHL contracts are eligible. “A big part of my reason for signing a one-way American League deal was to leave myself available for the Olympics. I didn’t want to play in the minors on a two-way contract and eliminate any chances of playing in the Olympics.”

Moses spent much of last season battling injuries and illness. Going into the 2017-18 season, he is looking to regain his love for the game, but also hasn’t forgotten the importance of team success.

“When you’re on a team you want to win, whether that’s winning the championship or winning every game you play.  Last year it was a really challenging year for me personally, the first of my career where I was out more than half the year with an injury. I was struggling with that mentally of not being able to play the game that you love. I really just wanted to get back to enjoying the game. I think that is something that gets overlooked. I sort of lost the passion for the game last season, so I really just want to focus on enjoying the game and playing hockey, and let the chips fall where they may after that.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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