Will anyone take Scott Gomez off Habs' hands?
Veteran centre coming off worst season of career
MONTREAL - Scott Gomez was in the untradeable category last week.
But a sharp rise in the salary cap had led to speculation that the Montreal Canadiens’ underachieving centre could be attractive to a team struggling to reach the new cap floor of $48.3 million.
Canadiens general manager Pierre Gauthier is close-mouthed about any roster changes, although he has said that all options are open and a team’s salary cap is fluid and can change quickly.
Florida general manager Dale Tallon told TSN he felt like he was running Team Waste Management, with teams trying to dump players like Gomez on him.
Florida, which is one six teams with a payroll under $48 million last season, did take Brian Campbell’s annual $7.14-million cap hit off Chicago’s books, but Tallon insisted it wasn’t a cap deal and it should be noted that he gave Campbell the current deal, which runs through 2016.
Why would any team want a player who is coming off the worst season his career with seven goals, 31 assists and a minus-15 rating?
The answer lies in the math. Gomez is scheduled to be paid $7.5 million next season with payments of $5.5 million and $4.5 million in the final two years of the contract for a total of $17.5 million. His salary cap hit is $7,357,143 for each of those seasons, which adds up to more than $22 million.
That means a team that is willing to take Gomez off the Canadiens' hands - Colorado and Phoenix are possible destinations - is $4.5 million ahead of the game.
Gomez has a limited no-trade clause. He can designate three teams he will not accept a trade to, which means he’s not likely to go to Winnipeg or Edmonton.
If the Canadiens do unload Gomez, it will give the team an extra $7 million in cap space, which should be more than enough to find a replacement although it would have to be from a trade because the free-agency market is thin after Brad Richards.
Gauthier has several decisions to make between now and the start of free agency on July 1. Monday is the deadline for qualifying offers to the team’s restricted free agents and it will be interesting to see if Benoit Pouliot is qualified after coach Jacques Martin basically gave up on him in the playoffs.
Josh Gorges will be qualified, but that’s a mere formality because he’s due a significant raise from the $1.3 million he made last season. The one major issue in the negotiations with Gorges will be length of his contract.
The Canadiens have a number of potential unrestricted free agents on defence. There’s room to retain James Wisniewski or Roman Hamrlik, but the team may decide it’s set with newcomer Alexei Yemelin.
Martin also has to fill a vacancy on his coaching because Kirk Muller is expected to be named head coach of the AHL Milwaukee Admirals Monday. Martin likes to work with people he knows and that means Hamilton coach Randy Cunneyworth is in the mix but so is former Florida Panthers head coach Peter DeBoer. Martin was the GM in Florida when he hired DeBoer.
The Canadiens went heavy on defencemen in the National Hockey League entry draft, which ended Saturday in St. Paul. Five of the Canadiens’ seven picks are defencemen with first-rounder Nathan Beaulieu heading the list. The 17th overall pick helped the Saint John Sea Dogs win the Memorial Cup.
Here’s a capsule look at the other picks:
* Josiah Didier (fourth round, 97th overall) is a 6-foot-2, 199-pound defenceman from Cedar Rapids of the United States Hockey League. The Littletton, Colo., native is headed to Denver University.
* Olivier Archambault (fourth round, 108th overall) is another small winger at 5-foot-10 and 176 pounds. He was the first overall pick in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and is regarded for his skills. He says he needs to work on his defensive play if he hopes to make it in the NHL.
* Magnus Nygren (fourth round, 113th overall) is a 21-year-old from Farjestad in the Swedish League. The 6-foot-1, 190-pounder will probably spend another season or two in Sweden, but the Canadiens’ scouts feel he’ll make a quick adjustment to the North American game.
* Darren Dietz (fifth round, 138th overall) is a 6-foot-1, 191-pound defenceman from the Saskatoon Blades of the Western Hockey League. He impressed the Canadiens by grabbing a spot on the team’s first power-play unit in his first season of major junior.
* Daniel Pribyl (sixth round, 168th overall) is, surprise, a big centre at 6-foot-3 and 189 pounds. He had 27 goals and 31 assists in 41 games in the Czech Junior League and there’s a chance he’ll get a jump on adjusting to North America by playing in Shawinigan next season.
* Colin Sullivan (seventh round, 198th overall) is a 6-foot, 190-pounder defenceman from Avon Old Farms prep school in Connecticut. He’s a long-range prospect who won’t start his college career at Yale until 2012.
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