What Should the Montreal Canadiens Do With Veteran Scott Gomez?

Nicholas GossCorrespondent INovember 28, 2012

VANCOUVER, CANADA - MARCH 10: Scott Gomez #11 of the Montreal Canadiens looks for a pass during the team warmup prior to NHL action against the Vancouver Canucks on March 10, 2012 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)
Rich Lam/Getty Images

The Montreal Canadiens will come out of the lockout with a number of roster moves to consider, and figuring out what to do with veteran forward Scott Gomez will be near the top of the list.

The 32-year-old center has just two years left on his current contract, but the deal carries a salary cap hit of $7.357 million. For a player who scored just two goals in 38 games last season, that's certainly not a good contract for Montreal.

One option for new Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin is to buy out Gomez, but this is an expensive option. As long as he is healthy and able to be in the lineup, the team might as well use Gomez because the Canadiens don't have an abundance of forward depth.

Over the course of a full season, Gomez could score 25-30 points, which isn't ideal for someone making his kind of salary, but the Canadiens do need some more offensive production from their bottom-six forwards this year.

Bergevin signed former New York Rangers forward Brandon Prust in free agency, but he won't give new head coach Michel Therrien the scoring he needs from the bottom six.

The Canadiens' best option is to just keep Gomez and hope he improves from last season. He's shown plenty of times throughout his career that he can be a quality offensive player, and if he builds up some confidence, he could be a top-six forward again.

Here are his statistics from the last three NHL seasons.

Season GP G A PTS +/-
2009-10 78 12 47 59 1
2010-11 80 7 31 38 -15
2011-12 38 2 9 11 -9

Trading him is not a realistic possibility given the size of his contract and his lack of scoring over the last two seasons.

The Canadiens could send him to Hamilton Bulldogs of the AHL and save the salary cap space (like what the New York Rangers have been doing with defenseman Wade Redden over the last few years), but there aren't any quality free agents to use that extra cap space on at the moment.

The new CBA might also include a rule in which a player's AHL salary cap hit is included in his NHL team's cap figure (via Tom Gulitti of The Record).

If this became part of the next agreement between the league and its players, it would eliminate the AHL option for Gomez, which would be good for him because players want to be in the NHL.

If the new CBA includes an amnesty buyout clause, then the Canadiens would likely amnesty him from the roster. However, it is unknown if the next deal will include this clause.

No one is expecting Gomez to dominate by any means, but someone with his talent shouldn't score fewer than 30 points in a full season without injuries. If he can provide the Canadiens with some depth and offensive production on the third line next season, fans should be pleased.

Sadly for the Canadiens, their best option is to keep Gomez and his contract.