Scouting the Free Agents: Brian Gionta

When the free agency period opens all teams go through the same debate on what they should do. There are usually two schools of thought: do we try to compliment the players we already have or do we look for new players to fill our vital roles. This year the Rangers have the same dilemma, especially with their lack of production from their top line center Scott Gomez. But this year’s answer might be a little close to home. Brian Gionta.

Now before you all go: “no way, not another Devil” hear this out. Scott Gomez’s best years were with Brian Gionta on his wing. That year, 2005-06, Gionta had 48 goals and 41 assists while Gomez had 33 goals and 51 assists. The past two years, since Gomez joined the Rangers, Gionta’s production has spiraled into the ground. There have been constant whispers that Gionta misses the pure-bred feeder that the Devils haven’t been able to replace since Gomez left. Especially since Gionta was the closes thing to a sniper the Devils had—before Parise was a household name of course.

This year was pretty productive for the 30 year old winger as he amassed 20 goals and 40 assists for 60 points in 81 games. The past four years he has scored 46 power play goals, which is definitely something the Rangers need help with. Gionta also has serious playoff experience too, scoring 40 points in 67 playoff games. In a free agent market in which many top flight players—Hossa, Gaborik, the Sedin’s—will see huge contracts throw their way, Gionta might be relatively affordable(I’m thinking 5 million ish a year).

Now Giontas numbers haven’t been great but they have been solid. He has scored at least 20 goals the past five years, and has had at least 50 points three of the past four years. He doesn’t take penalties and he is also schooled in the Devils “everyone before me” attitude. He also knows how to take care of both sides of the ice—also part of that Devil schooling—seeing as how he is a plus 62 in his career. He also shows a lot of heart and would definitely fit into John Tortorella’s hard working system.

So again play GM. Does it make sense to sign a guy mainly to help one of your top players start performing up to snuff? Is it worth the risk of signing a guy who may only put up 20-25 goals a year if he doesn’t click with Gomez? And let’s be honest the Rangers haven’t had the best luck in signing ex-Devils—the name Holik comes to mind (hang on while I puke). Regardless do you take a risk on this one? How much is too much for Gionta? Would he even be worth it? Have at it in the comments!