Photo: Bill Kostroun
The Capitals, and now their AHL affiliate, are hoarding Cup-winning centers.
Thursday morning, the Hershey Bears announced that they signed two-time Stanley Cup Champion Scott Gomez to a professional tryout. The 36-year-old center had played 21 games for the Blues this season before being put on unconditional waivers December 30. Gomez, who was averaging 11 minutes of ice time, had one goal and seven assists.
According to Blues coach Ken Hitchcock, Gomez’s release was necessitated because the team got healthy.
“He was good early,” Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. “When we went down quick with all of those injuries — when Stastny was out — he was good early. But it’s not fair for him to come and play a role he’s never played before. It’s unfair for him. So hopefully somebody picks him up and he can play a top-six, top-nine role and have that support. But with (Kyle) Brodziak back in and obviously (Patrik) Berglund coming back in, he’s a player that would be just waiting for an injury and that can sometimes be a long wait.”
The signing comes at a time when Washington has struggled with center depth due to injury or suspension and has had to call-up several players from Hershey, most notably Zach Sill. Third-line center Jay Beagle recently suffered a major hand injury and had surgery January 2. He will be out at least another month.
On January 6, the Capitals signed two-time champion Mike Richards, who is practicing with the team and trying to get in game shape. Barry Trotz has said Richards would start as the team’s fourth-line center, and would likely get into a game before the all-star break. That suggests Brooks Laich is headed out of the line-up.
This signing helps fill Hershey’s gaping hole at center. Chandler Stephenson was ruled out this next weekend by Troy Mann on Sunday, and Zach Sill is still in Washington. Hershey is working with two true centers right now with Carter Camper and Travis Boyd, along with converted center Nathan Walker. “It gives [Scott] an ideal opportunity,” Bears general manager Doug Yingst said. “And it certainly gives our franchise an ideal opportunity to see him and fill out that spot.”
“It would be my perception that he would like to get back to the NHL. Conditioning seems really good so there’s no time table set for anything. We’ll see how things play out. We welcome him here in Hershey.”
The Hershey Bears announced today that forward Scott Gomez has been signed to a professional tryout agreement. The announcement was made by Bears president/general manager Doug Yingst.
The 36-year-old Gomez brings a storied career to his first-ever stint in the American Hockey League. Dressing in 21 games with the St. Louis Blues this season, he recorded eight points (one goal, seven assists). In 2014-15, Gomez returned to the team that drafted him – the New Jersey Devils – and recorded 34 points (seven goals, 27 assists) in 58 games, finishing tied for third on the team in scoring.
Gomez, a native of Anchorage, Alaska, has dressed in 1,066 National Hockey League regular-season games with the Devils, New York Rangers, Montreal Canadiens, San Jose Sharks, Florida Panthers, and Blues. He has amassed 755 points (181 goals, 574 assists) over parts of 16 seasons, and added 101 points (29 goals, 72 assists) in 149 career Stanley Cup playoff contests. Gomez was a member of the Devils’ 2000 and 2003 Stanley Cup championship teams, won the Calder Memorial Trophy in 1999-2000 as the league’s rookie of the year and played in the 2000 and 2008 NHL All-Star games.
Internationally, Gomez was a member of Team USA at the 2006 Winter Olympic Games held in Turin, Italy. He also represented Team USA at the 2004 World Cup of Hockey.
Gomez only spent two professional seasons outside of the National Hockey League in his career. During the NHL lockout years of 2004-05 and 2012-13, he returned to his home state to play for the ECHL’s Alaska Aces. In a total of 72 games, he produced 99 points (19 goals, 80 assists), was named to the 2004-05 ECHL First All-Star Team, and went on to garner league MVP honors while leading the league in scoring that same year.
Prior to turning pro, Gomez played two years of junior hockey with the WHL’s Tri-City Americans from 1997-1999. He piled up 157 points (42 goals, 115 assists) in 103 games, earning a berth on the WHL West First All-Star Team.
Gomez was originally selected by the Devils in the first round (27th overall) of the 1998 NHL Entry Draft.
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