San Jose Sharks: How Scott Gomez Immediately Impacts the Team

Scott Semmler@@ScottSemmler22Analyst IIJanuary 23, 2013

PITTSBURGH, PA - MARCH 12:  Scott Gomez #11 of the Montreal Canadiens skates with the puck against the Pittsburgh Penguins on March 12, 2011 at CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

The San Jose Sharks are off to a fast start to the NHL season, and it could get even faster after adding Scott Gomez to the team on Wednesday.

The Sharks announced they signed the former Calder Trophy winner for one year and $700,000.

His impact will be felt right away.

For one, the addition of Gomez allowed many to understand the severity of Brent Burns’ injury. The Sharks placed him on the IR Wednesday as he still recovers from offseason groin surgery. Gomez will replace him on the active roster.

However, adding the veteran Gomez to a team already clicking on all cylinders this early in the season can only be positive for the Sharks.

Gomez will presumably play in the team’s home opener on Thursday against the Coyotes, and he should be expected to suit up on the third line with T.J. Galiardi and Tommy Wingels. That would inevitably force Michal Handzus from the third to the fourth line, where he will play with any combination of James Sheppard, Andrew Desjardins, Frazer McLaren and Adam Burish. It will be a demotion for Handzus, but an absolute upgrade for the Sharks on the look of their line combinations.

With Handzus on the third line this season, he hadn't notched a point on any of the Sharks' 10 goals through just two games to start the season.  Handzus, Galiardi and Wingels had combined for just three assists and zero goals. That will most certainly change with Gomez now at the helm of the third line.

While Gomez cannot be counted on to put the puck in the net, the third line will not carry that kind of pressure for production. Gomez will be asked to facilitate and control the puck on offense, while managing to maintain moderate defensive awareness with the puck in the Sharks’ end. That should not be hard to accomplish with determined young players like Galiardi and Wingels on either side of him.

The Sharks’ fourth line automatically gets a boost from Handzus, who suddenly creates some competition on the bottom line for the number of players fighting for playing time. However, Sheppard and Burish have shown they are determined to contribute to this team in the first two games.

The Sharks literally had nothing to lose when it came to signing Gomez. There was no need to sign him to anything other than a one-year deal, and money never really became a factor in contract discussions.

They also have a coach in Larry Robinson, who knows Gomez from their days with the New Jersey Devils and how he would fit into the Sharks’ system. Gomez has also been put in a position where there is little pressure to produce. Joe Thornton, Logan Couture, Joe Pavelski and Patrick Marleau are the major producers on this team, and Gomez has been added to provide the team more depth on the ice in the absence of the top lines—nothing more and nothing less. 

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