Free agent priorities for the Sharks heading into the offseason
Scott Gomez finished with two goals and 13 assists for 15 points, but was a team-worst -10 this season. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
Editor's note: Over the next two weeks, Sharks Insider Kevin Kurz will present 10 suggestions (one per weekday) for what the Sharks should do before training camp opens in mid-September. Agree? Disagree? Let us know in the comments section below.
#9 – Re-sign Scott Gomez, if the price is right
It was a new beginning for Scott Gomez this season, when the Montreal Canadiens parted ways with the much-maligned center/forward with an amnesty buyout, and the Sharks quickly scooped him up. Gomez skated for a few days with the team to prove he was in hockey condition, and finally signed during the team’s first road trip in Calgary and Edmonton.
From there, Gomez’s season was…ok. He finished with two goals and 13 assists for 15 points, but was a team-worst -10. His days as a top six forward, or maybe even a top nine, are probably behind him.
When the Sharks were forced to move Gomez back into the third line center role when Raffi Torres was suspended for the Kings’ series, Gomez’s line with Tommy Wingels and James Sheppard failed to produce after Game 2, when Gomez had his only two points of the playoffs (both assists).
Furthermore, Gomez was a key ingredient on the second power play unit, which didn’t score a single goal in the postseason. Certainly that isn’t all on Gomez’s shoulders, but that unit looked lost in the woods for much of the regular season and especially in the playoffs, and Gomez was often a part of it.
Still, the Sharks should explore resigning Gomez, a pending unrestricted free agent that brought some life into the locker room and whose personality seemed to fit in well with his teammates. Todd McLellan mentioned more than once that Gomez, a veteran of 13 NHL seasons, acted as an extra coach on the bench, reminding players to keep their shifts short and stay in the right position.
"I didn't know we were getting that in Scott Gomez, but we got it, and he's been a big influence that way,” McLellan said during the Kings’ series.
As long as the price is right, a fourth line of Gomez, Andrew Desjardins and Adam Burish would be a gritty, defensively responsible group that McLellan could roll on a regular basis.
The price, though, is the key to the deal.
Gomez, 33, made a pro-rated $700,000 this season, according to CapGeek.com. The Sharks already have $54.9 committed to just 15 players for 2013-14, so they probably don’t want to pay Gomez more than $1 million, and it’s hard to argue he’s worth more than that. Something along the lines of a two-year, $2 million contract would probably make sense for San Jose, which doesn’t have a whole lot in terms of forward or center prospects in its system other than Tomas Hertl.
Gomez was non-committal when asked last week if he wanted to return to the Sharks, but that could just be a veteran player keeping his options open, and wanting to get the best deal he can from San Jose. Still, the guess here is that mutual interest exists between the team and the player, who went from the fishbowl atmosphere of Montreal to the much more relaxed Bay Area. Whether a deal gets done could come down to numbers, as deals often do. If the Sharks can keep that number manageable, Gomez should return.
No. 10: Make Burns a forward permanently
Wednesday: Qualify/re-sign restricted free agents Galiardi, Desjardins, Demers and Sheppard