San Jose Sharks: Making the Case for Scott Gomez in Teal

Scott Semmler@@ScottSemmler22Analyst IIJanuary 21, 2013

Apr 9, 2011; Toronto, ON, Canada; Montreal Canadiens center Scott Gomez (11) during the game against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre. The Canadiens beat the Maple Leafs 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports
Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

The San Jose Sharks are reportedly kicking the tires on forward Scott Gomez and look to be close to signing him in the coming days.

According to CSN Bay Area’s Kevin Kurz, Gomez is traveling as well as practicing with the team while the two sides come to a contract agreement.

Unrestricted free agent forward Scott Gomez flew on the Sharks’ team charter to Calgary, took part in the morning skate with the scratches, and hopped on the team bus from the hotel to the Saddledome as San Jose gets set to open its season against the Flames on Sunday.

Gomez was recently released by the Montreal Canadiens, per the new collective bargaining agreement, which says that each team has the option to buy out the contracts of two players on its roster in order to slide in under the salary cap.

The 33-year-old had two years and $14 million left on his contract with the Canadiens.

Gomez never became who he was expected to be after signing with Montreal in 2009. In three seasons with the team, he looked to be a pass-first forward with little ability to put the puck in the net. He has scored only 21 goals in the last three years and the fact that he played in only 38 games last season was a major reason why the team was able to let him go so easily.

The Sharks have nothing to lose here. They are a team that relies solely on its top two lines to produce on offense and looks to its third and fourth lines to hold down the fort in the meantime. It is a big reason why the Sharks have yet to take the next step in the playoffs in past seasons.

Gomez could be a major factor on the Sharks’ third line, taking the place of Michal Handzus, who has been less than impressive in his time in teal. Handzus was expected to be that facilitator at the center position of the third line with moderate defensive ability, but hasn't been thus far. 

With Gomez, the Sharks are nearly guaranteed a player that will get the offense going, while maintaining that same defensive edge that Handzus was supposed to bring to the ice.

The Sharks have minimal cap space, but the move could still work out for the team. Gomez will be signed for cheap, and he will still be paid the $5.5 million coming his way from the Candiens this year.

Larry Robinson is another incentive that would help Gomez’s situation. Robinson, who is now a Sharks assistant coach, was the head coach during Gomez’s time with the New Jersey Devils from 1999-2007, when the team won two Stanley Cups. Gomez, himself, earned the Calder Trophy in 2000.

If Gomez is acquired, expect Handzus to be bumped down to the fourth line with any combination of James Sheppard, Andrew Desjardins and Adam Burish.

For the Sharks, there is nothing to lose by signing Gomez. At best, he regains the form he had in his first year with the Canadiens—a player that will mostly tally assists, but be able to produce between 50 and 60 points in an 82-game season. At worst, he gives the Sharks what he gave Montreal at the lowest of lows, which was a facilitator with little to no scoring ability.

The Sharks will take that gamble in a 48-game season with a bottom six that would love a change of scenery.

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