The St. Louis Blues announced today that they’ve come to terms with crafty veteran forward Scott Gomez on a one-year deal. This is great news for a team who shipped out pieces of its leadership core over the summer because Gomez brings a wealth of knowledge with him, including many playoff successes. Here’s a look at why he’ll be a great addition for the Blues throughout this season.
The Craftiest of Vets
Scott Gomez has been in the league since 1999-2000, where he helped the New Jersey Devils win the Stanley Cup and secured the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s top rookie. His on ice vision and creative pace of play allowed him to find seams in coverage and led to increased production for the Devils in the early 2000s. Alongside current Blues Assistant GM Martin Brodeur, Gomez led the Devils to 3 Cup finals appearances in just 4 years, winning 2 of them in impressive fashion (the first of which was against Ken Hitchcock’s Dallas Stars).
Gomez has always been respected across the league as a true man of the game, with a deep passion for the way it’s played. He’s appeared in over 1,000 NHL regular season games, is a multi-time All-Star, has almost 750 career points (180G, 567A, plus-36), and most importantly has great playoff success (.68 PPG on his career). This doesn’t even tap into what he can do for the team off the ice in terms of leadership. He’ll be able to calm the team down and keep others focused for the long haul, so tempers don’t flair and the energy stays light and positive. Whether it’s in St. Louis or Chicago, everyone around Gomez will be like a sponge soaking up his vast knowledge of the game which will help the organization ten-fold moving forward.
Why It’s a Great Signing
The Blues brought Gomez in because of his aforementioned character and player traits, but the reason signing him was a great move goes beyond that. With Patrik Berglund placed on long-term injured reserve the team needed another veteran that could step in as needed, and one with more (big game and postseason) experience than Scottie Upshall. GM Doug Armstrong was able to work out a one-year, two-way, $575K deal with Gomez, after bringing him in on a tryout basis through the preseason. He brings a positive, driven attitude that puts the team first, which is evident by his career Corsi rating (53), and he’s even eclipsed the 80-point plateau multiple times in his career showing that he can finish when it’s needed most. This means more quality options for the ever-changing lines that Ken Hitchcock runs, as Gomez seems to have a knack for playing with all types of teammates.
He can easily slide into the weak side slot and bury passes past opposing goalies, but his forte has actually always been his set-up game, drawing competition to him to create space for his line-mates to make plays in high scoring areas. This creates another season where the Blues show impressive depth, and if they can stay healthy, could cause some regular season surprises en route to better results in the playoffs. His good history with Martin Brodeur will also give Gomez better insight into how to be an effective leader for the Note throughout this season. He’ll be able to get good reads on players and stay within his boundaries while helping the team through the inevitable rough patches that come around as the season rolls on.
Once the Blues secure a playoff spot Gomez will really be a pivotal piece to the puzzle. He’s known as a playoff performer (149GP, 101P) and has some incentives built in to his new contract that will give him an extra boost come April. He’s always stepped up in the playoffs, and has even managed to be a physical presence despite his smaller frame, which will go a long way in showing the team the heart it takes to be successful in the postseason. Hopefully this will help the Blues finally break their first-round exit streak, and give young stars like Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz more experience in the postseason for the future.
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Mike has covered the St. Louis Blues and Tampa Bay Lightning in depth for The Hockey Writers since 2013. He is also a contributing writer for KSDK News Channel 5, the St. Louis area NBC affiliate, and has been a credentialed media member of the Blues since 2014. Follow him on Twitter @pep30.