In 38 games last season, Montreal Canadiens forward Scott Gomez scored recorded 2 goals and 9 assists for 11 points. The season before, Gomez scored 7 goals and ended the season with 38 points over 80 games.
In light of the new CBA, what are the chances that Gomez will still be a Hab when his current contract expires after the 2013-14 season?
None. Zero. Zip. Just Not going to happen.
Let’s look at his contract. He has about 1.5 years left on a deal that will pay him $5.5 million this season and $4.5 million next season. The cap hit, which is key, will remain $7.357 million – what it’s been all along. Remember the cap hit is the average yearly value of a contract and not what a player makes that year.
Here’s the problem. The salary cap for the 2013-14 season will be $64.3 million per team. Next season, the Canadiens already have about $60.2 million allocated to 16 players. There are 23 roster spots on a team. So if they keep Gomez, they will only have $4.1 million to sign 7 players. That's a problem.
As well the minimum salary for 2012-2013 is already at $525,000. When you divide $4.1 million across 7 players, that's $585,000 per player. Problem two.
Oh yes – the Canadiens haven’t signed P.K. Subban yet. Meet problem three.
So if even the Canadiens believe that Gomez has value in a new system coached by Michel Therrien, the team simply cannot afford to dedicate $7.357 million dollars of cap space to Gomez. It is not only impractical, but given the math, it’s just not feasible. This is not to diminish Gomez. He is a tremendously talented hockey player and great in the room. Problem is his price tag is just too high.
So what to do with the Gomez contract?
First what they can’t do: bury his contract in the minors a la Wade Redden. Under the terms of the new CBA, his contract would still count against the cap.
So now on to what they can do: (1) buy him out, or (2) trade him.
Under the terms of the new CBA, teams will be provided with two amnesty buyouts. This will allow a team to buyout a player and not have his salary count against the cap. This is new. Under the old CBA, the buyout amount counted against a team’s salary cap.
So the Canadiens could apply one of these amnesty buyouts to the Gomez contract. That will happen unless the Canadiens can trade him to another team.
A trade is not out of the question. In 2013-14, at $4.5. million Gomez will be paid about $2.86 million less than his cap hit of $7.357. Low payroll teams that need to make the salary cap floor could find Gomez to be an attractive option since they would be paying him less than his cap hit. That means they would enjoy a net gain on his salary. As it stands now, there are 11 teams below the $44 million cap floor for 2013-14. So certain teams may see value in acquiring Gomez.
So it looks like Gomez's days with the Montreal Canadiens are numbered.