Earlier today, the Post's Isabelle Khurshudyan dropped this bit of information into the Twittersphere:
Trotz said Caps will try to do something at trade deadline. Nothing drastic. Scott Gomez is on the radar.— Isabelle Khurshudyan (@ikhurshudyan) February 23, 2016
This was soon corroborated by CSN's Chuck Gormley:
Trotz said he went to Hershey on Sunday and saw a lot of NHL scouts. Added Scott Gomez is indeed 'on the radar. That's all I'm saying.'— Chuck Gormley (@ChuckGormleyCSN) February 23, 2016
Scott Gomez signed a professional tryout agreement with the Hershey Bears last month, and has played 15 of the maximum 25 games allowed under that contract. In those 15 games, he's racked up 22 points (four goals, 18 assists) playing alongside, among others, Caps' prospects Nathan Walker and Riley Barber.
Those are pretty decent numbers, and his performance so far with the Bears has drawn rave reviews from teammates and coach - so it's not that surprising that he might be on the radar.
Whether or not being "on the radar" should transition to "is a legitimate option for the Caps", however... that's a different issue.
Gomez has been at times a serviceable, and at times even a very good, NHLer over the course of his career. He's been to the Stanley Cup Final three times (all with the New Jersey Devils) and won two Cups. He's racked up 755 points in just over 1000 games played at the NHL level, and has five 70-plus point seasons under his belt. With all of that comes the assumption of leadership and playoff experience and all of the other intangibles that go hand in hand with a 36-year-old veteran of 16 NHL seasons, and it's likely that he could be signed at a cap-friendly number.
Those are mostly good things on paper, no question. In reality? At 36, Gomez is slowing down (and has been since for a few years now); his last two outings in the NHL yielded moderate offensive results (eight points in a 21-game tryout with St. Louis earlier this season, 38 points in 54 games with New Jersey last year) but it's hard to see him being able to match that with what his role would likely be in DC.
Which brings us to that point: where would he play? The Caps have an overabundance of third- and fourth-line centers on the roster, many of whom are already playing at wing - and with the addition of Mike Richards and the improving health of Jay Beagle, the team is suddenly overflowing with bottom-six forwards. That's likely where Gomez would need to play (he's certainly not a top-six guy, especially not on this team) and there's simply no room.
Even if there were, Trotz has stated that if the team were to bring in someone before the deadline, he'd like it to be a player who is a specialist of some kind, on the penalty kill or faceoffs... and Gomez is neither. He accumulated less than four minutes of shorthanded time in his last "full" season with the Devils, and has a sub-50% faceoff record over the last three seasons.
Take a look at his HERO chart over the last three seasons:
And here's a breakdown of his possession numbers during his brief foray in St. Louis (six-game rolling five-on-five numbers, via war-on-ice.com):
Essentially at this point he's little more than a fourth-liner with a bit of passing ability. He could potentially be a decent depth pickup for another team, but not for a team that fancies itself a contender - especially not one with limited cap space.
It's an interesting conversation, to be sure. The fact that Gomez is already familiar with the systems used in the organization and is getting attention of the Caps' brass makes this situation one that warrants monitoring. And there is the added bonus that his cost would only be his contract and not whatever pick or other asset would need to be included in a trade.
But the reality is that if the team is looking to add to their roster, they should be focusing what little cap space they have on someone who fits more of a need, like a depth defenseman or a penalty-killing specialist. Because at this point, everything Gomez could provide is likely already on the team - and can be found in players with much more left in the tank.