The Florida Panthers have made their first significant free agent splash of the summer, signing veteran forward Scott Gomez to a one-year deal.
“Scott is a veteran center who adds further depth to the middle of our line-up,” GM Dale Tallon said in a release. “He is a quick and skilled forward, with a wealth of hockey experience including two Stanley Cup titles, who will be a leader for our younger players.”
The deal is reportedly worth $900,000, according to Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos.
Gomez, 33, spent last season in San Jose on a one-year, $700,000 deal after being bought out by Montreal prior to the start of the season. He appeared in 39 games for the Sharks, scoring 15 points, and appeared in nine postseason contests, averaging over 15 minutes per night while notching two points.
San Jose head coach Todd McLellan raved about Gomez’s presence on the ice and in the dressing room.
“Gomer has been a very good player for us in a number of different ways,” McLellan told CSN Bay Area in March. “I don’t want to say it’s surprising, but he’s almost like a third or a fourth coach.”
The move makes sense for the Panthers, who are in need of veteran presences. Tallon is on record saying the club expects to “go young” next season and rely heavily on its prospects.
Florida has been stockpiling high draft picks ever since 2010 — the year Tallon joined the club — and now appears primed to show ‘em off.
In 2010, it was Erik Gudbranson (third overall), Nick Bjugstad (19th) and Quinton Howden (25th).
In 2011, it was this year’s Calder Trophy winner, Jonathan Huberdeau (third overall) and Rocco Grimaldi (33rd overall).
In 2012, it was Mike Matheson (23rd overall) and at the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, it was Aleksander Barkov (second overall).
All told, that’s seven top-35 picks, and a few others selected just outside the top 35 (Alex Petrovic, Vincent Trochek) that are ready to challenge for spots as well.
Gomez will join a veteran leadership group that includes captain Ed Jovanovski (37 years old) and fellow blueliners Mike Mottau (35) Mike Weaver (34) and Brian Campbell (33).