By Allan Muir
After taking him out for a week-long test drive, the Sharks finally made it official and signed center Scott Gomez to a one-year deal for a pro-rated portion of $700,000.
It’s a spare change investment for the Sharks, who pick up the former All-Star on the rebound from his buyout agreement with the Canadiens. If Gomez, who spent part of the lockout with the ECHL Alaska Aces, has as little to offer as he displayed over the past two seasons in Montreal, he’s easy enough to bury.
But the Sharks obviously believe the 33-year-old center still has something significant to offer.
You can say what you want about being paid more than $10 million to just go away, but Gomez has pride. Coach Todd MacLellan told David Pollak of the San Jose Mercury News that Gomez came across as “a very hungry player, a guy that would love to prove himself right before he proves everybody else wrong. That’s a pretty strong motivator.”
It’s expected that Gomez will skate on the third line, bumping the underperforming Michal Handzus down to the fourth. It’s a softer spot from which he can make an offensive contribution, but it won’t be all that he’s judged on. He can be a reliable (though not a shutdown) defensive presence, and he can play a puck possession game. And his playmaking skills add another dimension to a San Jose power play that ranked second in the league last season and is off to another great start this year.
You have to think Ryane Clowe, who skates on the second PP unit and is heading towards UFA status, could be a big beneficiary of Gomez and his passing ability.