With Scott Gomez nearing a return to line-up in the upcoming days, most likely during the Habs next road trip in Phoenix or in Nashville, head coach Jacques Martin will have to find a place for him to play.
Scott Gomez, who has missed the team’s past six games, has resumed practising with his teammate, albeit with a non-contact jersey. Upon Gomez’s return, the odd-man out will most likely be fourth line winger Mike Blunden, but that doesn’t clarify the situation. The Canadiens have four centre spots available and the return of Gomez means the Canadiens will have five centres, which means one of them will have to play wing and it won’t be the veteran Gomez.
It won’t be the team’s first line center and most important forward Tomas Plekanec (50.5%), who’s been the team leading scorer the past two seasons. I also highly doubt it will be fourth line center and newcomer Petteri Nokelainen who’s been a welcome addition on face-offs (56.7%).
That leaves Gomez (53.5%), as well as Lars Eller (40.8%) and David Desharnais (44.6%) to battle for the remaining two spots. With Gomez’s success on the dots combined with Eller and Desharnais’ inefficiency, it would be a wise to move Desharnais or Eller back to the wing. While David Desharnais has found a chemistry with veterans Erik Cole and Michael Cammalleri, Lars Eller has experienced similar success with Andrei Kostitsyn and Travis Moen.
However, after a torrid start, Moen has cooled off dramatically as it was expected, notching only one assist in the past six games. This means, that Moen is the most likely candidate to be sent down to the fourth line to play alongside Mathieu Darche and Petteri Nokelainen. Gomez played as a winger in his rookie season with the New Jersey Devils, so is somewhat familiar with the position should he be moved there by his coach.
The best move would be to insert Gomez on the Habs’ third line alongside Eller and Kostitsyn, keeping Eller as the center, but asking Gomez to take the draws because he is more efficient. This move could also be temporary as many injuries occur during the long NHL season and you never know when you are going to need your veterans to step up.
Don’t expect to see Scott Gomez traded this season as his $7.3-million cap hit will repel any general manager that might have a small interest in the veteran and this same cap hit will prevent GM Pierre Gauthier to bury him in the minors for the time being. Consequently, Gomez is here to stay, at least until the summer where his actual salary drops to $5.5 millions/year.
In the meantime, Andrei Kostitsyn left yesterday’s practice with an undisclosed injury and might miss some time in a near future.
What would do with Gomez to make it work?
Fred is a freelance sports write and translator, as well as a featured Montreal Canadiens blogger on http://hockeyindependent.com/blog/ and a baseball columnist on http://www.dobberbaseball.com/. Fred also joined www.habsaddict.com in time for the 2011-12 season.
About the Author: Working as a freelance sports writer and translator, Fred, 33, graduated from Laval University in Quebec City, earning a bachelor of translation in 2002. An avid fan of the Northeast division teams, he's also a long time fan of the Washington Capitals and the Montreal Canadiens. Fred also speaks fluently French and Spanish. http://twitter.com/FredPoulin98 www.traductions-quebec.com