Devil’s Advocate: Scott Gomez to the Islanders

It’s been less than one week since the NHL Lockout was officially lifted, and the New York Islanders have already made three moves that could help their team. Defensemen Radek Martinek, Joe Finley, and Thomas Hickey seem to have an immediate future on the Island, which gives the Islanders plenty more choices than Jon Landry and Ty Wishart as a botton-pairing.

In review, the Islanders brought back Radek Martinek after he failed to re-sign with the team last season. Garth Snow also grabbed two former first-round picks in Joe Finley (27th overall in 2005) and Thomas Hickey (4th overall in 2007) off of the waivers. Heck, Lubomir Visnovksy is also expected to show up, although I won’t believe anything that is said until he’s here, on the ice, and played half the season. Even then, I’ll probably question the legitimacy of the real Lubomir Visnovsky.

Although it may not be the best defensive corps in the NHL, the Islanders seemed to have closed a few holes in their defense with their latest moves. Maybe the team didn’t score a definite top-4 defenseman (especially without Visnovsky), but it’s safe to say the Islanders defense is expected to be better today than it was on Monday.

Now, the Islanders have another big hole to fill. The Islanders still do not have a true #2 centre. With Ryan Strome practicing with the Islanders’ bottom-six forwards, it is expected that he will be sent back to the OHL sooner rather than never. Frans Nielsen is practicing with the team’s second-unit, but let’s face it; Frans’ two-way play makes him better suited for a 3rd-line role. So, now what?

Yesterday, the NHL and NHLPA decided to allow teams to use their compliance buyouts now, as opposed to waiting until the shortened season ends. This agreement had to be made because certain teams had been telling players that they expected to buy out that they should stay home for the entire season. One of these teams is Montreal, who told the underachieving Scott Gomez to collect his pay while sitting on the couch this season. Montreal is now expected to buy out Gomez from his contract. This news  sent Islanders Country into a frenzy. For some reason, the prospect of signing Scott Gomez excites Islanders fans. I’m not exactly thrilled with that idea, but let’s take a look at both sides of the argument.

I guess let me ask y’all.. Why do some of us want Scott Gomez on this team? I get it. Montreal will buy him out. Scott Gomez will no longer have his over-inflated contract that he signed with the New York Rangers during the summer of 2007. One team’s trash is the Islanders’ treasure, right?

Or, maybe it’s because Scott Gomez is low-risk, high-reward opportunity for an Islanders’ team that just needs something positive to happen to them on the ice. A one-year deal only keeps Gomez with the Islanders for 48-games. Scott Gomez is a former 80-point scorer, and could possibly resurrect his career while playing with top minutes on the Islanders 2nd-line. I mean, up until two seasons ago, Gomez was still a consistent around-60-point-player.

Maybe Scotty just needs a change of scenery. As the Canadiens’ top-paid player, Gomez faced a lot of pressure playing for the most prolific NHL team in history. Expectations were extremely high, and Gomez has been a scapegoat since day one. With a chance on Long Island, Gomez returns to the tri-state area and completes his tour of the three local teams.

That’s all good. Maybe Gomez’ ship can be righted. Maybe Garth can scoop him up, and Gomez can play inspired hockey. He definitely does need a change of scenery, and maybe his best fit is on the Island playing for an organization that was rumored to be in trade talks with him when he still had his expensive contract (and I promise you, if he came to the Island with that contract, plenty would still be crying that Wang doesn’t spend).

The thing is, regardless of what fits Gomez, Scotty doesn’t fit the Islanders. Everyone wants a number-two centre, right? Scott Gomez isn’t it. Sorry. I don’t want to hear what he used to be. I don’t want to deal with another old-veteran player that comes to the Island to be a roster place-holder for the future.

Everyone wants to talk about how the Islanders need a number two-centre, but how they want Frans Nielsen on the 3rd-line instead of the 2nd because he doesn’t “fit”. I agree, but Frans Nielsen had a career-high in points last season (47). Do you realize how many Scott Gomez had? He had 11 points!

If you want to bring up that he only played 38 games, then look at the previous year! He played 80 games, and scored a weak 38 points! But, so many people are calling for this guy because of what he did prior to three years ago! The funny thing is, it’s the same people who are extremely critical of the Brad Boyes signing because “he hasn’t done anything in two seasons”. Come on!

And you want to tell me that you would sign Gomez to $3 million for one season? Why? He scored TWO (2) goals last season (typically, one was against the Islanders)! Just two. Why would he deserve anything over what a below-average role player is making. Let me guess. You think Michael Grabner’s overpaid also, right?

“But, he’s a name-player, and the Islanders need one of those.” Stop it. Just stop. You know who else is a name player? Rick DiPietro. You know how many Islanders’ fans want Rick off this team? I haven’t created a survey or anything, but I could guarantee you it’s roughly more than 50%. OK, so Gomez might not be injured. Gomez may not even be a problem in the locker-room. Gomez will certainly be a distraction, though. He will certainly be another name that everyone else, including Islanders fans, will hang over his head if (when) the move fails. That’s all we need. Another version Brian Rolston that the fans can use as a reason to torment Garth.

If you want to shake the “circus” perception this team receives, you do not sign Scott Gomez to a contract of any kind. Not even to be the guy handing out concessions in the main lobby. This guy is the only player that I know of, aside from DiPietro, that had a website dedicated to a terrible streak (368 days without scoring a goal).

Look. We all want the Islanders to win some games. I want to see this team in the playoffs more than anybody. If you think the Islanders will not make the playoffs in this shortened season with the roster they have now, but think an addition like Scott Gomez will send them over the edge, then I’m sure you can also give me directions to a land so amazing, it rains Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

Personally, I think this team is doing a great job rebuilding this team. Although it has not translated into results just yet (and I do understand your frustration), the team has prospects on the rise and who should be playing for the Islanders as soon as 2013-14. The Islanders have “placeholders”, so to tell me Scott Gomez is the ideal fit, well I would go as far to say I would take Reasoner anyone else on this roster over him. Let Boyes play centre. Let Nielsen continue playing his role at centre. Even move Bailey back to centre. There is no room on this team for Scott Gomez.

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About the Author: Writes at Islanders Op-Timism. Islanders Season Ticket Holder who tends to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Hofstra Graduate currently working at Portnoy, Messinger, Pearl & Associates. I definitely want to end up working within the world of hockey. Blog: www.IslandersOptimism.com E-Mail: ChristopherTriantafilis@gmail.com Twitter: @ChrisTriants

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