Last week a wrinkle in the new CBA was ironed out thanks to rare agreement from both sides, and two distinguished veteran hockeyists transmogrified from personae non gratae to desirable commodities with the proverbial stroke of a pen. (Or is it a click of a mouse nowadays?)
Both Wade Redden and Scott Gomez were signed to such outrageous free agent contracts by Glen Sather and the New York Rangers a half-decade ago that both were in the process of being buried alive by their respective organizations. Redden had already been sunk in the minors the last two years, the victim of salary cap restrictions coupled with his personal oversized cap hit, and this year faced the spectre of not playing at all lest he get hurt before the Rangers could buy him out next summer. Last week’s change enabled something called an “accelerated compliance buyout” to set both Redden and the Rangers free from the shackles of that horrid contract. The veteran rearguard quickly signed with a Stanley Cup contender, the St. Louis Blues.
A similar situation confronted Gomez this year, as the Montreal Canadiens initially asked him to stay away for the entire season just so they could buy him out next summer. That situation was resolved in the same manner, and it appears that like Redden, Gomez is about to wind up playing for a contender. Numerous reports have Gomez signing with San Jose Sharks sometime today. No official word as yet, but it seems highly unlikely that he might be in the line-up when the Sharks take on the Edmonton Oilers tonight.
Gomez is a classic case of a good player on a bad contract, but with the latter out of the way he remains a pretty good player, at least from this distance. He’s a long way from a $7 MM value, but divide that by ten or so and all of a sudden he looks like a bargain, especially in a depth role as he’ll surely be in San Jose. The Sharks are already stacked down the middle with the likes of Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture and Michal Handzus all taking faceoffs, while former pivot Patrick Marleau has long since been pushed out to the flank.
Gomez was a bad fit in Montreal, a rotten contract obtained in a horrible trade (for Ryan McDonagh and others, a deal that released Sather & Co from cap hell). Under that unforgiving microscope he crashed and burned into a nightmarish scoring slump that saw him play 60 regular season and playoff games without a single goal, a span of 122 shots. He also encountered injury issues for the first time in his career, after averaging over 78 GP his first 11 seasons. Once a constant as a 50-70 point producer, Gomez saw his production crash through the floor of the Bell Centre, mustering just 9 goals and 49 points in 118 games as a Hab, sporting an ugly minus-24 over that span.
Now 33, Gomez has a lot of mileage on the odometer, having broken into the NHL with the Devils as a teenager in 1999, and winning both the Calder Trophy and Stanley Cup his first season. Gomez won a second Cup three years later as the centre on Jersey’s EGG Line. While those triumphs are something of a distant bell a decade later, it can’t hurt to add a little more winning experience in a room that contains a lot of guys who have never made it past the conference final. By my reckoning Gomez currently ranks fifth among active players in playoff games played (140) and playoff points (99).
Speaking of playoff experience, Gomez will once again work with Larry Robinson, now an assistant in San Jose, but who was the head man in Jersey back in 2000. By all accounts Robinson and Gomez have an excellent working relationship, one which may have tilted the compass toward San Jose once the veteran hit the open market a few days ago.
During the lockout Gomez had been playing in his native Alaska with the Aces of the ECHL, notching respectable totals of 6-7-13, +4 in 11 GP. Seems like he should be both rested and raring to go once things are finalized with the Sharks and ready to turn the page on an ugly chapter of what has been a pretty good career. While it’s certainly possible that career might be nearing its end of days, a one-year pact for a rumoured $700,000 pro-rated over a 48-game season is a pretty inexpensive gamble that maybe there’s still some gas in the tank.
Edited by TheEhrhoffEffect, 22 January 2013 - 01:16 PM.