New Jersey’s penchant for leaning on veteran skaters could soon be coming to an end.
Pending UFAs Steve Bernier, 30, and Scott Gomez, 35, haven’t heard much of anything from new GM Ray Shero about their futures with the club, per the Bergen Record.
Bernier said his agent, Kent Hughes, also has yet to hear from Shero about his contract. So, though Bernier is understanding about how busy Shero has been, he also has to prepare for the possibility that the Devils might not want him back and see what other teams would be interested if/when he officially becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
“Obviously, it’s the same for every player,” Bernier said. “We don’t know where New Jersey stands in terms of me, so we have no choice but to talk to other teams and see what’s available.”
That’s not his first choice, though.
“I don’t know if I should be, but I’m still positive that New Jersey might call,” Bernier said. “I’m hoping, actually. I’m hoping they’re going to call, but you need to be prepared to move if you have a chance to. My family likes it a lot in New Jersey, so, hopefully, we’re going to know a lot more before July 1.”
Center Scott Gomez’s agent, Ian Pulver, said that there was “nothing to report” as far as contract talks with the Devils other than some initial contact from Shero.
While it’s been widely assumed the team’s other veteran UFAs — Martin Havlat and Michael Ryder most specifically — were done in New Jersey, there was some belief the Devils could retain Bernier and Gomez, based largely on their impressive performances last season.
Bernier tied for second on the team with 16 goals while playing on a relatively inexpensive one-year, $600,000 deal. Gomez, who made $550,000, was even better — he finished tied for third on the team in scoring, with 34 points, and led all skaters with 27 assists.