Once overpaid and underproducing, Scott Gomez would be a savvy signing for St. Louis

Jared Clinton
Scott Gomez Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)

When Scott Gomez was a Montreal Canadien, his inability to find the back of the net became a running joke. For more than a year — from Feb. 5, 2011 to Feb. 9, 2012 — Gomez hadn’t scored a single regular season goal. It turned Gomez, who was earning $7 million annually, into one of the most maligned players in Montreal, and that reputation of overpaid under-producer has followed him since.

His name is usually followed by a remembrance of the goalless drought, but the 35-year-old Gomez has been a handy depth forward over the past three seasons with little fanfare. He’s had a tough time shaking his reputation, but Gomez used it to fly under the radar this past season in New Jersey and scored seven goals and 34 points in 58 games.

Now, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Jeremy P. Rutherford, Gomez, who was on a PTO with St. Louis, is working on a contract for the 2015-16 season with Blues, which would be the perfect fit for the veteran center. Read more

New Jersey Devils to honor Martin Brodeur with statue, retire No. 30 on Feb. 9

Jared Clinton
Martin Brodeur earned himself many curtain calls over his illustrious career. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

He may be manning the St. Louis Blues’ front office but Martin Brodeur will always be remembered as a New Jersey Devil, and the Devils are set to make sure no one ever forgets the legendary netminder in New Jersey when they honor him on Feb. 9.

When the Edmonton Oilers roll into the Prudential Center for the early February contest, the Devils will pay tribute Brodeur, who played in New Jersey from 1993 until 2014. Over the weekend of festivities, the Devils will also unveil a statue of the surefire Hall of Famer.

“I don’t think you can honor a hockey player better than retiring his jersey,” said Brodeur. “And even better, a statue now. I’m going to have to talk to that guy and make sure he puts it on my good side. It’s a great honor. I’ll be beside the three defenseman (Scott Stevens, Ken Daneyko, Scott Niedermayer) who really helped me out to be the goalie that I was.” Read more

Rumor Roundup: Hurricanes, Flyers and Devils buzz

Eric Staal

As the upcoming NHL season draws near, the Carolina Hurricanes and captain Eric Staal have yet to reach an agreement on a long-term contract extension. Staal, 31, is eligible next summer for unrestricted free agency. If he tests the market in July, there’s a good chance he’ll be the top player available.

Le Journal de Montreal’s Renaud Lavoie created a stir earlier this week claiming Staal was seeking $9 million annually on his new contract. NBC Sports’ Mike Halford cited Lavoie’s report, noting the Hurricanes center is earning $9.5 million in actual salary this season, while his annual cap hit is $8.25 million.

Considering Staal’s production has steadily declined in recent seasons, seeking $9-million annually is certainly an eyebrow raiser. Halford suggested it could simply be an opening bid from the Staal camp, noting Calgary Flames defenseman Mark Giordano reportedly made the same request before settling for $6.75 million annually. He also speculated it could be Staal’s way of putting himself outside the Hurricanes’ price range.

Yahoo Sports’ Greg Wyshynski subsequently noted TSN’s Bob McKenzie disputed Lavoie’s report. McKenzie states that Staal hasn’t asked for anything yet and the two sides haven’t even exchanged salary numbers. Still, it cast a bit of a sobering pall over the possibility of the two sides reaching an agreement on a new contract.

Previous reports claim talks were cordial between the Staal camp and Hurricanes management. At this point, it appears both sides could wait to determine how the upcoming season unfolds before getting down to serious discussions. The Canes will want to evaluate Staal’s performance, while the captain will want to see if there’s any significant improvement in the team’s play. This could drag on into the new year.


Trade rumors continue to dog Philadelphia Flyers’ brothers Brayden and Luke Schenn this week. It’s believed GM Ron Hextall still hopes to shed salary and free up a roster spot for a younger player before the season opens.

Philly.com’s Jeff Neiburg suggests Luke, 25, could be a trade candidate, but feels his $3.6-million cap hit might be difficult to move. If Hextall decides to trade a defenseman, Nieburg speculates Radko Gudas could be a possibility.

TSN’s Darren Dreger believes Brayden, 24, could be moved at some point in the season. He suggests the St. Louis Blues as an option, claiming they’re seeking a top-nine forward. However, Dreger feels Brayden’s salary ($2.75 million in actual salary, $2.5-million cap hit) might be too expensive for the Blues and a lot of other teams.

The Blues currently have just over $1.186 million in cap space, meaning the Flyers must accept a salaried player in return or pick up part of his remaining salary. Either option defeats the purpose of moving Brayden in the first place.


New Jersey Devils center Travis Zajac recently weighed in on the trade rumors week linking him to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Zajac, 30, told NJ.com’s Rich Chere he’s unconcerned about the speculation, adding he wants to remain with the Devils.  Chere claims the Devils aren’t opposed to move Zajac, but noted he has a no-trade clause. Zajac’s agent, Kurt Overhardt went one step further, telling TSN’s Darren Dreger there was “absolutely no truth” to media speculation claiming his client would be traded.

It’s not unusual for a player and his agent to deny trade speculation, only to see that player subsequently getting dealt after all. In this case, however, it’s unlikely this is a case of misdirection.

Zajac’s carrying an expensive contract ($5.75-million annually) for six more seasons and his production has steadily eroded since his career-high 67-point effort in 2009-10. While the Devils probably aren’t adverse to shedding his contract, it’s highly unlikely any team is interested in picking that up.

If the Devils want to move Zajac, provided he’s willing to waive his no-trade clause, they’ll have to absorb part of his cap hit to make him more enticing in the trade market. Even then, the lengthy of term remaining on his contract is a likely deal killer.

Rumor Roundup appears regularly only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).

For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.

Rumor Roundup: Zajac doesn’t make sense for Maple Leafs

Travis Zajac (Andy Marlin/Getty Images)

Last week, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported of talk around the league suggesting Toronto Maple Leafs GM Lou Lamoriello might be keen to acquire center Travis Zajac from the New Jersey Devils.

NJ.com’s Rich Chere weighed in on the speculation, suggesting Lamoriello could be discussing several options with Devils GM Ray Shero. Chere believes Leafs center Nazem Kadri could be part of a trade scenario, and feels the Devils “would undoubtedly consider a package deal” involving Leafs winger James van Riemsdyk.

Chere didn’t tie Zajac with Kadri or van Riemsdyk, though it’s easy to understand why the Devils might wish to move him. Since his career-best 67-point effort in 2009-10, his production has steadily declined, reaching a career-worst 25 points last season. Zajac’s also carrying an annual average salary of $5.75 million for six more seasons, plus he carries a full no-trade clause.

Acquiring Zajac, however, makes absolutely no sense for the supposedly rebuilding Leafs. Nor does peddling Kadri before they’ve had an opportunity to fully evaluate his play in the upcoming season. And unless the centerpiece of a package offer is Adam Henrique, there’s really not much the Devils can propose to convince the Leafs brain trust to part with van Riemsdyk.

Toronto Sun columnist Steve Simmons said it best: if the Leafs acquire Zajac, it will be the first sign that their great rebuild plan won’t take place.


When it was announced last week that Boston Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg would miss eight weeks following back surgery, CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty suggested it could spark another round of rumors linking the Bruins with Winnipeg Jets blueliner Dustin Byfuglien.

Sure enough, the “Byfuglien-to-Boston” speculation resurfaced, prompting Haggerty to follow up by noting the high price to acquire the Jets rearguard. He thinks the Jets will want a return consisting of a first-round pick, a good roster player and a top prospect. The Boston Globe’s Fluto Shinzawa chimed in by suggesting the Jets could seek one of the Bruins two first-round picks in the 2016 NHL draft, along with help off the roster.

Byfuglien, 30, is eligible next summer for unrestricted free agency, which explains why his name has been bandied about the rumor mill in recent months. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman claims he’s heard no updates on contract talks between the defenseman and Jets management. While acknowledging the rumors linking Bygulien to the Bruins, Friedman believes they’ll look at more cost-effective options.

It’s rumored Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Luke Schenn could be available, while the Edmonton Journal’s Jonathan Willis believes Oilers blueliner Nikita Nikitin could be a trade candidate. However, Haggerty doesn’t consider them palatable options for the Bruins. For now, the Bruins continue to assess the young defensemen in their system in hopes one or two prove capable of stepping up this season.

Rumor Roundup appears regularly only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).

For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.

Rumor Roundup: Leafs looking to land Zajac from Devils?

Travis Zajac (Eliot J. Schechter/Getty Images)

It hasn’t taken long for speculation to arise tying Toronto Maple Leafs general manager (and former New Jersey Devils GM) Lou Lamoriello with a player on his former team. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports “more than one NHL exec” believes Lamoriello would love to acquire Devils center Travis Zajac.

The 30-year-old Zajac was selected 20th overall in the 2004 NHL draft by Lamoriello, and within two years made his debut with the Devils, netting 42 points in 2006-07. The 6-foot-3, 205-pound center’s two-way play swiftly made him a key forward. In Jan. 2013, Lamoriello re-signed Zajac to an eight-year, $46-million contract.

Since reaching a career-high 67 points in 2009-10, however, Zajac’s production has declined. Last season was the nadir, tallying only 25 points in 74 games while being demoted to checking line duty. Part of that decline can be blamed on the Devils lack of offensive depth, but it doesn’t fully explain the dramatic drop in his offense. Read more

Yogi Berra loved…hockey? And the New Jersey Devils loved him

Stan Fischler
Yogi Berra, right (Courtesy of the Yogi Berra Museum)

Yogi Berra played baseball and loved it, but when the World Series ended he adored his hockey as much as a Gordie Howe or Rocket Richard.

I learned of Berra’s ice passion when he hosted a book signing for my Metro Ice, a history of New York hockey, at the Berra Museum in New Jersey. That’s when the Yankees icon told me that he actually skated alongside members of the St. Louis Flyers, his hometown team.

When I shook my head in disbelief, he said, “Here; have a look.” Sure enough, in one corner of the museum there was a life-sized photo of Berra in an AHL uniform with Yogi looking every bit a stickhandler.

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Futures mailbag: Which 2015 draft picks are going straight to the show?

Jack Eichel and Connor McDavid (Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

Welcome back to my mailbag, where all manner of questions on prospects and the draft are answered. If you have something you want to know about, hit me up on Twitter at @THNRyanKennedy and hashtag it #thnfutures. You might see the question here in a couple weeks.

In the meantime, let’s get to the latest round of inquiries, the first of which is very timely:

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