Scott Gomez may have played his final game in a Montreal Canadiens uniform.
Gomez suffered an eye injury during a scrum in the corner in the third period of the March 1 game against the Minnesota Wild. The Canadiens said it will be a few days before doctors determine the exact nature of the injury but he is out indefinitely.
Gomez has two years remaining on a contract he originally signed with the New York Rangers, but heís not expected to return next season.
There is an outside chance the Canadiens will be able to trade him, but itís more likely the team will buy him out or bury him in the American Hockey League. With the salary cap going up once again in June, the floor will also rise and Gomez might be attractive to a team looking to fill cap space. Gomezís contract is front-loaded and he is owed $10 million over the final two seasons, but has an annual cap hit of about $7.3 million.
One obstacle to a trade is Gomez has a limited no-trade clause in his contract, and he balked when the Canadiens tried to trade him to the New York Islanders.
The Canadiens, who fell to the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-1 on Saturday and next travel to Calgary to face the Flames on Tuesday, can save some cap space if they park Gomez in the minors, but they would be on the hook for the full $10 million heís owed. If they buy him out, it would cost them $6.67 million but they would take a cap hit of about $1.6 million in each of the next four seasons.
Gomezís production has gone steadily down in each of his three seasons in Montreal. He had 59 points in 78 games his first season and a career-low 38 points in 80 games last season. Injuries have limited him to 35 games and he had two goals and eight assists for 10 points.
The injury has provided rookie Louis Leblanc another opportunity to play in the NHL. He and Andreas Engqvist were recalled from Hamilton after Gomez and Aaron Palushaj both suffered eye injuries in the Minnesota game.