After 2 disappointing seasons on Broadway, the Scott Gomez era is over. The Rangers have traded their big free agent prize from the summer of 2007 to the Montreal Canadiens for Smithtown, L.I. native LW Christopher Higgins.
Gomez, who came to the Rangers after years of winning Stanley Cups across the river in New Jersey, could never find the right fit here with the Rangers in his two seasons on the team. After being brought in to center perennial all-star Jaromir Jagr, the two players found they both needed to control the puck too much to be a match as linemates. Numerous other attempted pairings for Gomez would only produce more of the same and eventually it seems the Rangers have decided to give up on trying to find players to mesh with him, instead moving him out and starting over and in the process, freeing up some much needed cap room entering into tomorrow’s free agency signing period.
In Higgins the Rangers get a player coming off a disappointing season of his own due to nagging injuries but also a player who will probably fit better into John Tortorella’s up tempo attacking style.
The other players involved in the deal are minor league forward Tom Pyatt and defenseman Mike Busto heading with Gomez to MTL and defensive prospects Ryan McDonagh (who was MTL’s No.1 prospect) Pavel Velentenko and Doug Janik come to the Rangers with Higgins.
Analysis: This deal was a no brainer and absolute steal for Sather and the Rangers. Gomez is a very good player but it was evident towards the end of last season that it wasn’t going to work here in Manhattan. I was surprised to see Sather actually back up his strong proclamation of changes coming after last season’s embarassing loss to Washington in the first round of the playoffs but he finally kept his word. Not only did he keep his word but he didn’t just dump Gomez and his albatross of a contract, he actually got back a serviceable winger in Higgins and a top prospect in McDonagh (which has Habs fans blazing up the internet with rage towards GM Bob Gainey seldom seen from them) that could pay dividends for the organization now and in the future. This move also made us players in the upcoming free agency period by freeing up cap room to possibly land Gomez’s replacement at center or a top scoring winger the team so desperately lacked since the departure of Jagr.