Six years ago the New York Rangers made the coup of the off-season when they signed Scott Gomez and Chris Drury. Instantly they became favorites to win the Stanley Cup. However, as with most free agent acquisitions up to that point, both Gomez and Drury failed to live up to expectations. Two years and only 32 goals and 128 points later, Gomez was traded by the Rangers to the Montreal Canadiens in what might arguably be Glen Sather’s best trade during his tenure as GM of the Rangers.
Gomez had signed a seven-year, $51.5 million deal just hours after the 2007 free agency period began. However, Gomez never lived up to the hype that followed him across the river from the New Jersey Devils, a team he had recorded 33 goals and 84 points with in the 2005-06 season. The fans quickly turned on Gomez and Sather needed to rid the Rangers of the large contract.
Sather found taker for Gomez and the remaining five years and $33.5 million left on his deal in the Canadiens and shipped Gomez, forward Tom Pyatt and defenseman Mike Busto to Canada for forward Chris Higgins, defensemen Doug Janik, Pavel Valentenko and Ryan McDonagh. McDonagh was the 12th overall draft pick of the 2007 NHL Draft and has become a cornerstone for the Rangers and recently signed a six-year, $28.2 million deal.
At the time of the deal McDonagh and Higgins were the two key pieces the Rangers received. Higgins was a restricted free agent but would be a much cheaper offensive option for the Rangers than Gomez and had recorded 20 or more goals in three of the previous four years before the trade. Higgins, however, was not very effective with the Rangers and was shipped to the Calgary Flames along with Ales Kotalik for center Olli Jokinen and winger Brandon Prust. Prust enjoyed his best season in the NHL with the Rangers 13 goals and 29 points, five of which were short-handed.
Six years later it is Ryan McDonagh that stands out as the best player in the Gomez deal and, at 24-years-old, should still have plenty of good hockey ahead of him. Not a bad return for a player the Rangers couldn’t wait to get rid of.