<
>

Devils accept arbitrator's ruling, sign Gomez

NEWARK, N.J. -- The New Jersey Devils re-signed Scott Gomez
to a one-year, $5 million contract Thursday, ending speculation
that the team would be unable to fit the 26-year-old forward's
contract under the NHL's salary cap.

The details of the contract were confirmed to The Associated
Press by a person familiar with the negotiations who requested
anonymity because the team had not yet announced the signing. The
Devils did not immediately return a telephone message seeking
comment.

Gomez was awarded $5 million by an arbitrator on Tuesday.
According to the person familiar with the negotiations, the Devils
went to arbitration offering Gomez $3.5 million, while Gomez sought
$6.5 million.

Gomez earned $2.2 million last season, when he set career bests
for goals (33) and points (84) for New Jersey, which lost in the
second round of the playoffs to eventual Stanley Cup champion
Carolina.

In six seasons with the Devils, Gomez has 103 goals and 287
assists.

With Gomez's signing, the Devils will have to do some
maneuvering to get under the $44 million salary cap by the opening
of the season in early October. They recently signed forward
defenseman Patrik Elias and defenseman Colin White to multiyear
deals totaling $42 million and $18 million, respectively.

They are also responsible for contracts totaling $7.1 million
for defenseman Vladimir Malakhov and forward Alexander Mogilny,
neither of whom finished the season on the team's NHL roster.
Mogilny was demoted to the minor leagues and Malakhov left the team
in December.