FullTilt Flashback: How Scott Gomez Saved The Rangers
July 1, 2009 is one of the greatest dates in New York Rangers’ history, not only because they got rid of a player who performed poorly for the organization, but also because they acquired a defensemen who could turn out to be one of the best to ever suit up for the Blueshirts.
Glen Sather has been employed as the Rangers general manager since 2000, and although there have been some minor hiccups, his overall job has been pretty impressive. He drafted Henrik Lundqvist (actually asst. GM Don Maloney did – but under his watch), lured Rick Nash to the Big Apple and oh yeah, obtained a guy named Ryan McDonagh.
Since Mack Truck (as he’s affectionately known) was acquired, the Blueshirts have been to the Eastern Conference Final twice (2012/2014) and the Stanley Cup Final once (2014). Not a bad start.
With the New Jersey Devils, Gomez was a prolific set-up man who made his living off of assists. His career high came in 2003-04, where he had 56, and also tallied 70 points in 80 games played. Then, he had an 84 point season in 2005-06, and set a career high for goals with 33.
He came to the Rangers in 2007 hoping to rekindle the magic he had in New Jersey. Unfortunately for him, he wasn’t playing with the likes of Jamie Langenbrunner and Patrik Elias. He had a strong outing that season, putting up another 70 points in 81 games played, but his output severely dipped the next season, where he only had 58 points in 77 games played.
This obviously did not sit well with the fans and the front office, so they needed to find a way to get rid of him, realizing that their asset was in a sharp and rapid decline. Luckily, the Montreal Canadiens took the bait, and traded forward Chris Higgins and defensemen Doug Janik, McDonagh, and Pavel Valentenko for Gomez, Tom Pyatt and defensemen Mike Busto. The Habs were not aware then that they had just played their role in one of the biggest lopsided deals the NHL has ever witnessed.
McDonagh has turned into a defensive force in this league, becoming part of one of the best shut-down pairs in the National Hockey League with long time partner Dan Girardi. He has forged a great relationship with his teammates, and he is now starting to find the offensive side of his game, which projects to only greater things on the horizon for the Rangers.
Gomez, who played last year down south with the low-ranked Florida Panthers, is coming off a season where he only played 46 games and collected a paltry 12 points. He has since accepted a training camp invitation to come to Newark and work out with the New Jersey Devils in less than two weeks.
To make matters better for the Rangers and even worse for the Canadiens, McDonagh is only 25 years old, and his game is already beautiful. He has not even reached his pinnacle yet, which means he can only get better as his career moves on. Check out what we think is in store for him here.
He is one of the leading candidates to be named the next captain, following the departed Ryan Callahan.
If this trade never would have happened, the Rangers could still be a cellar to middle-of-the-pack team at best. Defense plays such an integral role in today’s league with so many top skilled forwards, that a player like McDonagh is an anchor and number one pairing selection on every team across the league.
So, a big thank you to Gomez for saving the Broadway Blueshirts.
Even though he didn’t realize it at the time.
(And, just to throw a little salt in the wound):