St. Louis Blues Place Scott Gomez on Waivers


The St. Louis Blues’ oldest player wasn’t going to find too many more opportunities with Patrik Berglund nearly ready to return.

The St. Louis Blues placed center Scott Gomez on waivers Tuesday morning, perhaps ending the veteran’s three-month tenure with the Blues organization. The 35-year-old had been the team’s oldest player for the duration of the 2015-16 season.

Gomez came into Blues training camp and made the team on a professional tryout deal, signing a two-way deal at the conclusion of camp that would pay him $575,000 in the NHL and $200,000 in the AHL. After serving as a healthy scratch for the first four games this season, Gomez was afforded a long-term lineup spot by an injury to Paul Stastny and ended up playing in 17 of the Blues’ next 18 games. He was quite productive through that stretch, scoring a goal and notching seven assists (all of which game through his first 11 games) while acting as a productive setup man for Robby Fabbri.

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When Stastny returned, though, the chances for Gomez to contribute became limited. An experiment to move Jori Lehtera to the left wing spot and keep Gomez at center failed, so with Stastny, Lehtera, David Backes, and Kyle Brodziak serving as the team’s top four centers, Gomez was a healthy scratch for six straight games. After Brodziak suffered a skate cut 10 days ago, Gomez got back in the lineup as the fourth-line center. He was unproductive in that role, though, and he was still scratched in favor of newly-recalled Jordan Caron for two of the Blues’ three most recent games.

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Now Patrik Berglund, who has been out for the duration of the season thus far after undergoing shoulder surgery shortly before training camp, is nearly recovered and should be ready to return to the lineup within the next couple weeks. Berglund, whose absence likely triggered Gomez’s presence on the opening roster in the first place, has played mostly wing throughout the past couple seasons, but he’ll probably be moved back to center upon his return to protect his shoulder from collisions on the boards. That means David Backes is probably the best candidate to move over to a wing, and he’d be the team’s extra center if one of the top four goes down. 22-year-old Dmitrij Jaskin has also been getting some work at the center position recently and could also be a candidate to fill in.

Despite the Blues’ relatively strong center depth at the NHL level, it should be interesting to see if Gomez ends up going down to play for the Blues’ AHL affiliate, the Chicago Wolves (if he clears, of course). At 35 years old and with 16 NHL seasons under his belt, Gomez could be content to hang up his skates and call it a career. But with the chance to push for one more Stanley Cup championship in St. Louis, and the likelihood that he’d be recalled after rosters expand when rosters expand at the trade deadline–if not before–there’s reason for Gomez to keep pushing, too.

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On Tuesday morning, the organization mutually parted ways with center Justin Hodgman, who has some NHL experience but had played in just 15 games at AHL Chicago this year, so it seems like they could be clearing out some space on their minor-league roster in case Gomez decides to go down to Chicago.