Scott Gomez’s misfortunes this season made a lot of Devils fans strive for his services. The opportunities for his availability started when the St. Louis Blues placed Gomez on waivers before eventually releasing him. Gomez recently signed a PTO with the AHL’s Hershey Bears, showing explicit hope of salvaging what has been a very storied career. Since Gomez started the process of severing ties with the Blues, there was a lot of chatter amongst some Devils fans on how he could help New Jersey’s goal-starved offense.
I understand the rationale behind signing Gomez for a third stint. His ties with the organization, breakout year in 2014-2015, and underrated speed make him an ideal candidate to address the team’s offensive shortcomings, enough to get them over the hump and make the playoffs. Considering how close the standings are, it’s not entirely inconceivable for the Devils to sneak in the second or third spot in the Metropolitan Division. It’s an attainable goal if management decided to go in that direction, and a player like Gomez looks like he could help, at least on paper.
As tempting as it would be to bring Gomez back in the fold for another run at the playoffs, it’s a move I personally wouldn’t sanction.
General manager Ray Shero was quoted earlier this month saying he wouldn’t make any rental acquisitions before the trade deadline and any deals would have the team’s long-term interests in mind. Not only would Shero have signed Gomez back in the summer if he wanted to keep him, but Gomez would get no more than a one-year deal wherever he winds up, which essentially makes him a half-season rental. If this team makes a playoff push, it’ll be with their youth-infused core. I’m sure Shero and Coach Hynes want to see how far this team can get themselves uninterrupted. Signing Gomez would defeat that purpose.
We all know the Devils lack a complete top-six, and get bleak production from its 7th-12th forwards. They need a scoring wing (particularly left) more than anything. Since Gomez plays his best hockey at center, in a first or second line roll no less, I just don’t see a fit in the Devils’ top-six. Between Adam Henrique and Travis Zajac (despite his extensive goal drought), the only way Shero rearranges his top-two centers is via upgrade that’ll benefit the team beyond this season. With Jacob Josefson and Sergey Kalinin finding their strides, prospects Pavel Zacha, John Quenneville, and (despite playing wing since his second call-up) Joe Blandisi coming up the pipeline, Gomez has no long-term adherence to this organization; even for two or three years.
The “ties” I mentioned Gomez had with the organization only entail his prior years. There’s no mutual familiarity between Gomez, the staff, or management anymore since last summer’s overhaul. Keep in mind Gomez was one of 11 players older than 30 on last year’s roster that were traded or weren’t re-signed last offseason. I understand Devils fans are frustrated. The team’s surprising success has given us a lot of hope this season, especially with the playoffs in reach and a whole half-season left to secure a spot. It’s easy to lose track of the bigger picture, in which Shero and Coach Hynes are still in the early stages of. A two-time retread like Gomez would only have temporary value (if any at all), and interfere with the progress the youth-laden roster has made.