SAN JOSE -- The Sharks are exploring the possibility of signing forward Scott Gomez, who became an unrestricted free agent this week when the final two seasons of his seven-year, $51 million contract were bought out by the Montreal Canadiens.
"We look at it that he's 33, he's won two cups," Sharks general manager Doug Wilson said. "A very versatile player."
Gomez visited Sharks Ice on Saturday and is open to signing with San Jose.
"It's a great group of guys and a great team," Gomez said after a short skate at the facility. "We'll see what happens. If that's the case and that's the way they want to go, hopefully I can try and help this team win."
Prior to joining the Canadiens, Gomez played for the New Jersey Devils and won the Calder Trophy in 2000 for Rookie of the Year under current Sharks associate coach Larry Robinson. That's considered a key to the mutual interest.
"He's probably one of the true passers in the league," Robinson said. "If you're a goal scorer and you get open, he'll find you."
The Anaheim Ducks -- with their lack of experience at center -- were also reported to be a potential suitor for Gomez, who as of Saturday afternoon didn't know what the future held.
"Just kind of getting a lay of the land" in San Jose, Gomez said. "Nothing's set in stone ... it's still kind of up in the air."
Gomez had a career-high 33 goals and 84 points with New Jersey in 2005-06, leading to that huge contract from the New York Rangers.
But after his scoring tailed off at the price that Montreal had to pay for his services after acquiring him, Gomez was considered a disappointment. Limited by injuries in 2011-12, he had two goals and nine assists in 38 games.
Gomez was originally told by Montreal to stay home this season rather than risk injury in the minor leagues that would have forced them to pay his full salary next season. Later, the NHL modified its rules and Gomez was considered a "compliance buyout" after clearing waivers.
With Montreal still picking up his pro-rated $5.5 million salary this season and responsible for two-thirds of his $4.5 million salary in 2013-14, he could be considered a valuable addition at a much lower price.
The change of scenery might not hurt Gomez, either, with the relatively laid-back West Coast a far cry from Montreal's pressure-packed, hockey-is-religion environment.
"Let's put it this way. It can either make you or break you," said Robinson of playing in Montreal. "If you let it bother you, it'll bother you a lot.
Robinson won the Stanley Cup six times in his Hall of Fame playing career with the Canadiens,
"He's been kicked down and stepped on, and now it's about how he's going to respond to it," Robinson said. "If he's the type of person that I think he is, he's going to respond very well."
For more on the Sharks, see David Pollak's Working the Corners blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/sharks. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/PollakOnSharks and follow Curtis Pashelka on Twitter at twitter.com/CurtisPashelka.