January 15 2013 01:03PM
Think about how important Brian Campbell and Sheldon Souray were to their respective teams last season after being forced out of their old organizations due to a high salary cap hit.
Now, think about the possibilities of compliance buy-outs to guys like Shawn Horcoff and Jay Bouwmeester in the offseason. Or, if you want to look at this season alone, Scott Gomez and Wade Redden.
See, Scott Gomez and Wade Redden are frequently the targets of jokes, but their only crimes in this world are being overpaid. With the ability to negotiate a fairer contract, Gomez is actually a player who fits into the Canucks' current set-up, by virtue of being an above average puck-possession player who is defensively responsible.
I wrote this yesterday at the Backhand Shelf, joking that overpaid players have become the new market inefficiency:
If you aren’t on board with what Gomez can bring to a hockey team now, well, it’s not useful to quote numbers at you from the dregs of the Internet stat book that haven’t made their way into mainstream hockey parlance. Gomez is a solid puck-possession centreman who can’t shoot. He makes up for his goal-scoring ineptitude by being a relatively good playmaker. Unfortunately, in the last two seasons, the Habs have shot just 4.7% and 6.6% at even strength with Gomez on the ice, far below NHL expectation. As a result, a player who put up 50 points in each of the three years at the start of his new contract (for a strong defensive centreman, 50 points is pretty good) saw his totals dwindle to 38, and, an awful low, 11, over the last two seasons, the 11 last season coming in a campaign when Gomez could play just 38 games.
The thing is, he’s still useful. He’s not $7.4M useful, but he’s useful to a team at $2M or $3M, or whatever they’re willing to pay him. Given that his salary is nearly $2M less than his salary cap hit this season, he’s useful for a team who wants to spend below the salary floor but still make it up to the $44M lower limit. There just isn’t the time, unfortunately, for teams to make wise player moves between now and season’s beginning.
With Roberto Luongo, the Canucks are seeking an established centreman. For free, there's a chance the Canucks could land Scott Gomez, who is not only a player significantly underrated because his salary for the last five years has been so high, and the price paid by the Montreal Canadiens to acquire him in the summer of 2009 was so high.
Just because a player was expensive doesn't mean he's a write-off. I wouldn't take Gomez for $7.4M, or even half of that, but if the Canucks can negotiate a reasonable contract for this season and next, why not bring aboard a player looking for offensive redemption after going a near calendar year without a goal? He scored just twice last season in 38 games and was played on the injured reserve three times. He was so broken that Montreal general manager Marc Bergevin was willing to eat his salary cap hit to have Gomez sit on his couch so he wouldn't get hurt. That would open the door to the Habs' buying him out in the summer.
But Gomez wouldn't want that, since not playing decreases his value even further. If a deal has been reached to allow the Canadiens to buy out Gomez and the Rangers to buy out Wade Redden, this represents to possibilities to fill gaps on the Canucks roster, which lie right now in the depth centre positions and on defence. With the additions of Jim Vandermeer and Cam Barker, the Canucks are just stacking bodies on the left side, but I'm willing to bet Redden provides more to a club at this point, particularly if his contract is closer in line with a depth role.
I think where the world sees broken players, I see terrific opportunity. Both players make sense for the Canucks, especially at a price they can negotiate.