ST. LOUIS — The Blues recently announced that veteran Scott Gomez would come to training camp on a try-out basis. Coach Ken Hitchcock, talking in a radio interview earlier this week, spoke about what he likes about the veteran center.
Gomez is 35 but is coming off his best season in several years. Hitchcock told Bernie Miklasz of 101.1 FM ESPN in a radio interview on Monday that the way Gomez played last season, he looked like he did five years earlier.
“He was fast, he was great on the power play, transported the puck up the ice,” Hitchcock said. “He was a really good player for them last year. He played the last, I think, 55 or 58 games. He was healthy. He’s really found a new gear fitness-wise. He’s working with the Bure family and he’s found a new training method and he’s found a new fitness level that has allowed him to get his quickness back.”
Gomez, who won two Stanley Cups earlier in his career with the New Jersey Devils, returned to the Devils last season and contributed 34 points (seven goals, 27 assists) in 58 games.
“If he comes in and plays like he did last year, there’s no doubt he makes the team,” Hitchcock said. “He’s a good player. So we’re curious, we’re excited. He’s kind of the type of center we’re looking for, so we’re going to give him a real go here, we’re going to play him with good players and see where he gets to.”
Gomez could help offset the loss of third-line forward Patrik Berglund.
Berglund had surgery on his right shoulder last week and is expected to be out at least four months. That could open the door for a prospect like Ty Rattie or 2014 first-round pick Robby Fabbri, but the Blues may be more inclined to lean on a veteran like Gomez rather than rely on one of the youngsters who may not be ready for a full-time role in the NHL.