Montreal Canadiens: Patience Necessary Before Judging Scott Gomez
For the Montreal Canadiens, the lack of secondary scoring has been an issue that has been plaguing the club for a few years now, and this season is no different.
What is different this time around, however, is that the player who is not providing scoring depth is being paid $8 million.
Scott Gomez was acquired from the New York Rangers this summer right before the start of free agency for the underachieving Chris Higgins and young defenseman Ryan Mcdonagh.
Certainly a bizarre move by Bob Gainey, as Gomez wasn't the imposing No. 1 center that the Canadiens had been coveting for the better part of the decade. And to add to that, Gomez came with a hefty $8 million price tag.
Expected to be the Canadiens' No. 1 center at the start of the season, injuries and lack of scoring have conspired against Gomez's effectiveness, and with him struggling a bit, his salary is constantly pointed at by the Montreal media.
However, what people need to understand is that Scott Gomez is not the Canadiens' top center, nor is he a player that can carry the team at times, both of which were wrongly expected of him.
Without scoring wingers on his line, Gomez's passes rarely connect, and rarely does he put the puck in the net to begin with.
The Alaska native can be a great playmaker, but only with scorers such as Andrei Kostitsyn or Brian Gionta can his passing abilities show up on the scoreboard.
And with that hefty price tag, is he truly worth it?
Gomez has taken all the right steps towards integrating himself into the Montreal culture, but even that is not enough to cover up the fact that he isn't producing the way he should.
There is no doubt that Gomez is constantly creating offense when he is on the ice with his speed and superb offensive instincts, but at the end of the day, those attributes need to show up somewhere on the stats sheet.
The biggest problem with Gomez isn't even any of the things previously mentioned; it's that huge cap hit.
Although it remains that he has great offensive abilities, Gomez's skill set isn't overwhelmingly rare or unique. How hard is it to find a playmaking center?
The Canadiens had one with a smaller cap hit and with a ''C'' on his chest last year, but they let him walk, wanting to overhaul the team's identity, for better or for worse.
All of this is what's being said in Montreal these days, and although a lot of it is true, too much of that criticism is unfair to Scott Gomez.
It has been already forgotten that when Gomez was on a line with Brian Gionta and Mike Cammalleri, they formed one of the best lines in the National Hockey League. That line was always dangerous, and if it is to be reunited, should eventually return to that level.
Standing in Gomez's way though, is the Canadien's best player, Tomas Plekanec.
Plekanec has done everything and then some so far this season, playing on the penalty kill, the power play, and at even strength, excelling in all those areas, particularly in shorthanded situations.
The Czech-born center has claimed his title of No. 1 pivot, and it is unlikely that he will relinquish it.
Gomez can still be effective on the second line, especially when Gionta returns. It's simply going to be a matter of patience, but in Montreal, patience doesn't show up in the dictionary, which could mean that Gomez might not be wearing the CH at the end of the season.
It is true that Gomez hasn't been anywhere near what was expected of him, but a little patience might pay off in the end.
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