One of the larger NHL stories heading into the weekend, aside from real games being played, is the coming presence of Scott Gomez and Wade Redden on the free agent market. Both are currently passing through waivers as part of the buyout process.
While both have earned the reputation of being tremendous busts, in relation to their large contracts, neither will likely have to wait very long to find a job. On a smaller deal, something with six figures and a short term, each of them has value. In the case of the Chicago Blackhawk, there may be terrific value in bringing in a guy like Gomez.
There’s no doubt that the team lacks center depth. Badly. Dave Bolland has been bumped up to the second line in order to attempt to help the Hawks find an actual center to play between premier offensive talents like Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp.
Which has left the bottom six looking pretty barren, as far as a center goes. Marcus Kruger is likely going to hold down the middle on the fourth line, but as smart and as solid defensively as he is, it remains to be seen if he’s a long term solution in the lineup at all.
On the third line, the Hawks have been rolling with Andrew Shaw. He’s a natural center, and a natural nuisance, meaning that he could be a solid player in the middle of that checking line. Of course, we still have no real indication of how well he’ll perform there. But beyond even those two, there isn’t much to work with. Save maybe Jamal Mayers.
Which means that the Hawks need a center. While much of the press and fan base will indicate that their more pressing need is a center for the second line, they just need a center in general. A true center. Bolland should be able to handle a role there on the second line, but beyond him, there isn’t much to work with. Enter Scott Gomez.
Gomez obviously failed miserably in attempting to live up to his contract with the Montreal Canadiens. He’s far beyond his 70+ point days of his past. But that doesn’t mean that he’s as useless as the Habs would probably have you believe.
In fact, he’d probably be a terrific fit with the Blackhawks. As a guy who can come in on that third line and win some faceoffs and perhaps play a bit of the physical game, Gomez would be a very good addition. Especially if you’re talking about a deal that doesn’t even surpass $1 million against the cap, which wouldn’t affect the team too much at all.
There will likely be a couple of clubs interested in Gomez for a similar type of role. But if the Hawks don’t at least pursue Gomez, then they may be making a tremendous mistake. At this point, they can’t afford to overlook any centers available, even if their reputation has been completely tarnished by a gigantic contract that they failed to live up to.