One of the Rangers priorities this season is going to be to first decide whether or not the Rangers think Gomez is still their man and then if he isn't go about trying to move him. After a miserable campaign this past year, it's up in the air whether or not John Tortorella and Rangers management believe that Gomez is still a first line center capable of playing a solid 22-24 minutes per game. The Rangers are in a precarious situation with not only Scott Gomez, but the other horrid contracts (Redden, Rozsival, Drury) their balance sheet possesses. The problem is, the Rangers don't hold all the cards. Even if they decide unanimously that Gomez needs to be moved, whose a possible trading partner and for what in return? The only feasible scenario is that the Rangers move Gomez and receive another teams version of him. Case in point, winger Dustin Penner of the Edmonton Oilers. Larry Brooks wrote an article with this proposal and it is indicative of the kind of trade Ranger fans might see if Gomez gets moved.
Penner was signed by Krazy Kevin Lowe to a Group II offer sheet following the Ducks Stanley Cup win a few years ago. Since then, he has regressed and hasn't lived up to the potential he showed playing on the 'kid line' alongside Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry while he was in Anaheim. Most NHL GM's have their version of a public embarrassment, Glen Sather has Wade Redden and Kevin Lowe has to a smaller extent, Dustin Penner.
Penner fills the Rangers need of a big winger. He's 6'4 and 245 pounds of up until this point, largely uncapped potential. Ever since he landed in Edmonton with the big contract in his back pocket, he seemed to have lost the fire to prove himself worthy that most young players have.
Despite Penner's flaws, he's younger than Gomez and his contract is much smaller. His cap hit is $4.25 million per year until 2012 while Gomez's hit is $7,357,143 million until 2014. On this deal, the Rangers would gain $3,107,413 million in cap space but more importantly, they would save themselves from paying a premium for a now elderly 35 year old Gomez in the final year of his contract. If you think his deal looks bad now imagine how bad it looks when Gomez is Markus Naslund's age. To me, that is the biggest positive of this deal. The Rangers gain the cap space, but they also save themselves from the risk of paying a broken down version of Gomez 5 years from now. On the flip side, Dustin Penner is 26 and contemporary thinking would say the he will improve over the course of his contract while Gomez will regress (as we've already seen).
So hypothetically, the Rangers subtract Gomez and add Dustin Penner and lose a putrid big contract by adding a smaller GM's blunder. The problem that will arise (as will any trade of Gomez) is who will replace him as first line center? There aren't any really good free agent centers this summer. Seriously, do you really want to drop another big contract on Mike Cammalleri? I didn't think so.
As will with any possible trade of Gomez, the Rangers will more than likely become a weaker team since they won't receive much value in return. In this particular case, the Rangers gain some size on the wing and some cap space. But then they also lose their number 1 center and the Rangers are left hoping that Brandon Dubinsky is ready to step up and play 1st or 2nd line minutes. The possibilities for fixing Glen Sather's mistake(s) is severely limited, which makes me think 'do I really want Sather to have the opportunity to make another gaff trying to erase his mistakes?'