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Devils sign veteran center Gomez, place Zajac on IR

by Staff Writer / New Jersey Devils

The New Jersey Devils signed forward Scott Gomez to a contract Monday. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.

Gomez was with the Devils in training camp on a tryout agreement and had been skating with the team when it was at home. He had two goals and 10 assists in 46 games with the Florida Panthers last season.

"I'm ready," Gomez said. "Ready to help out, ready to come back. I'm excited."

Forwards Travis Zajac and Martin Havlat will not travel with the Devils for their game Tuesday against the Pittsburgh Penguins, creating a need for an extra forward. The Devils placed Zajac on injured reserve Monday, retroactive to Nov. 28.

"He does have skills, he knows the system, he's been practicing and we'll see how it goes," general manager Lou Lamoriello said of Gomez, 34, who skated on a line with Patrik Elias and Jaromir Jagr at practice Monday.

Gomez was selected by the Devils with the 27th pick of the 1998 NHL Draft and spent his first seven NHL seasons with the team. He won the Calder Trophy in 2000 and helped the Devils win the Stanley Cup in 2000 and 2003.

"This is where I wanted to be. This is where they know me as a hockey player," Gomez said. "This is where I've played my best hockey."

In 14 NHL seasons with the Devils, New York Rangers, Montreal Canadiens, San Jose Sharks and Panthers, Gomez has 173 goals and 713 points in 987 games.

"There's no question, his hockey sense and his passing skills, they're what his game is all about," Lamoriello said of Gomez.

Zajac sustained a lower-body injury in a shootout loss to the Detroit Red Wings. Havlat also has a lower-body injury. Center Adam Henrique, who sustained an upper-body injury in the game against the Red Wings, did not practice with the team on Monday, but has been skating on his own and will travel with the team to Pittsburgh.

Defenseman Jon Merrill (arm), who hasn't played since Nov. 1, has been cleared by doctors to return to the lineup.

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