Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Former-Montreal Canadien Scott Gomez.
Scott Gomez is the Florida Panthers’ problem now, albeit for much less of a headache-inducing salary than he was earning with the Habs when he was bought out last January.
Still, while Gomez signing with Florida is not technically an advantage (at least not uniquely to the Habs anyway), it is symptomatic of an actual one.
Assuming the team’s second-overall pick this past summer, center Aleksander Barkov, is brought along slowly and not automatically baptized by fire with a top-six position, Gomez realistically slots in as the team’s second-line center.
That’s right. A guy who once went a full calendar year between goals (February 5, 2011—February 9, 2012) when he should have still been in his prime, is now two years older, coming off two straight two-goal seasons…and is among the cream of Florida’s crop in terms of offensive talent.
Looking at Florida’s roster, the Panthers actually have no more than one hypothetical decent line comprising left-winger Tomas Fleischmann, center Jonathan Huberdeau and right-winger Kris Versteeg. And, all due respect to those three, with Huberdeau just 20, that’s a second line on an average NHL team.
It’s a similar story on defense. Captain Ed Jovanovski may be a sentimental favorite, being the team’s last remnant of its first and only run to the Stanley Cup Final and all, but that’s just a nice way of saying he’s 37 years old…and how bad the team has become.
Really, when your only defenseman currently in their prime is Matt Gilroy, who is on his fifth team in the last five years (New York Rangers twice), it’s a bad sign.
It's even worse with the much-hyped Jacob Markstrom poised to serve as the team’s No. 1 goalie. As great as he’s projected to be, the Panthers are not doing him any favors putting him behind this current lineup and may even be doing themselves a huge disservice in the long run.
In the here and now, the Habs have too many advantages over the Panthers to count, much like their projected goal total whenever they meet during the regular season, as the playoffs aren’t even a possibility for Florida.