This past weekend, the Montreal Canadiens announced their future buyout of Scott Gomez’s contract at the end of the shortened season. I remember being furious with Gomez when he signed with the Devils’ rival, the New York Rangers, for more money. I even turned the poster I had of him into a dartboard. However, many years have gone by and he has hardly lived up to the potential he showed in New Jersey. I never thought I would see the day when I would express my desire to see Scott Gomez back in a Devils uniform, but that day has come.
As the Devils enter the 2012-2013 season, they do so with an offense that ranked 11th in the league for goals scored not to mention that they lost their second highest scorer. Replacing the 31 goals Zach Parise had last year (and many more in previous years) will be a difficult task, and I think perhaps a step towards the past may help the Devils reboot their offense.
A quick glance over the Devils’ personnel shows an offense led by Ilya Kovalchuk that is followed up with Travis Zajac who just lost his best line mate in Parise’s departure, Patrik Elias who will turn 37 this April, David Clarkson who has yet to prove he can produce with any consistency, and a number of players who have proved their mediocrity in the NHL already or have yet to prove much of anything. This may seem like a tough analysis of the Devils’ offense, but as a fan that has watched for many years I have no problem admitting that the offense has not been the reason for the Devils’ success over the past two decades. However, I fondly remember the days of Brian Rafalski flinging the puck on net as Brian Gionta bangs home 48 rebounds for scores in a single season; the days when no one moved the puck better on the power-play than the Devils did on the stick of the rookie from Alaska, Scott Gomez. While Gomez was not a rookie in 2005-2006, he manned the power-play pretty successfully scoring 9 power-play goals of his own and helping Brian Gionta to score 24 power play goals. Gomez scored 84 points that year, which was his second-to-last on the Devils. Gomez has surpassed 19 goals in a season only once in his career, for 33 goals as a New Jersey Devil. He scored 0.82 points per game and had .61 assists per game as a Devil; for reference, Zach Parise scored 0.84 points per game last season.
I am not trying to say that Scott Gomez has the legs or skills he seemed to possess when he was 26 years old. There is no question that Gomez is hardly an elite goal scorer, but he was once an elite set-up man. With the scoring potential in players like Adam Henrique, David Clarkson, and Travis Zajac possibly surrounding Gomez, it is impossible for me not to be intrigued about the idea of getting a first round pick, Calder Trophy winning, Stanley Cup winning former member of the Devils back to the team on which he began his career with great success. He will come far cheaper than his current salary cap hit of $7.3 million, and seems to fit into the value-spending tendencies of Lou Lamoriello (not counting the Kovalchuk contract). The Devils do not have much depth at the center position, as Jacob Josefson seems to get hurt every other week. I think the worst-case scenario here is the Devils have found an above average, third line, true center than can help quarterback the power play. The best-case scenario is the return of their rookie star revitalized by his homecoming…sounds too tempting to pass up.