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Scott Gomez: The New York Rangers' X-Factor for 2008-2009

Mike RappaportAnalyst IIAugust 6, 2008

Over a year ago, Scott Gomez put the finishing touches on a seven-year, $51.5 million contract to play on Broadway, and looked forward to have a career year centering Jaromir Jagr.

Neither of the two happened and the Rangers, who had Cup aspirations on July 1, were bounced from the playoffs in the second round for the second straight season. Now, with Jagr gone, the offensive face of the team is Gomez.

The Rangers' roster changes this offseason show that the team is moving in the direction of defense. However, the Rangers also need more offense after only scoring 2.5 goals per game last season, and with their leading goal scorer and point scorer now playing in Russia.

As the Rangers build up the defense in front of goalie Henrik Lundqvist, the offense is now being put on the shoulders of Gomez. The 28-year-old center scored 70 points last season playing with wingers who couldn't skate side by side with him up and down the ice, and didn't favor Tom Renney's up-tempo style.

Now, one of Gomez's two wingers will likely be Nikolai Zherdev, who was acquired in a trade with Columbus. Zherdev is a player who should benefit from skating with Gomez. Zherdev has been inconsistent, so it remains to be seen whether or not he will play to his potential.

Bottom line: If Gomez struggles, the Rangers will need Henrik Lundqvist to be extraordinary, or they will not be playing springtime hockey.  

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