Sergei Gonchar Signs With Ottawa For Too Much Money, As Expected

Ottawa has signed Sergei Gonchar to a 3-year, $5.5 mil/year deal. Apparently, Ottawa has not seen this clip.

I’ve been up and down on Gonchar throughout his career, but this was obviously the right move for the Pens to let him go. He took a lot of flak his first year with the Pens for his poor play, and rightfully so, but his two-way play in the subsequent seasons after that led me to believe in retrospect that the Penguins were probably just a total mess that first year and it wasn’t Gonchar’s fault, when they randomly signed Gonchar, Ziggy Palffy, John LeClair and Jocelyn Thibault and threw them with Lemieux, Mark Recchi, and 18-year-old Crosby and asked Ed Olczyk — in his second year of coaching ever, at any level — to make it work somehow.

Gonchar regained his form as a top offensive defenseman in the league very quickly after that, but this past season — and perhaps not-coincidentally, ever since getting kneed by Ovechkin in the ’09 Playoffs — he’s proven to be a defensive liability slightly more often than is acceptable for a 24-minutes-a-game #1 defenseman, and while his offensive skill remains sharp as ever, and as pathetically as the Pens’ power play operated when he was out of the lineup last year, the Penguins cannot commit a three-year top-flight salary to a 36-year-old who’s already showed noticeable signs of decline.

Kris Letang and Alex Goligoski have a long way to go both offensively and defensively (people forget Letang scored precisely three goals last season, same as Mark Eaton), and handing the power play reigns over to them will be risky for a while, but not as risky as committing that much cap space to an aging player and ensuring that three of the Pens’ six defensemen possess limited defensive abilities.

Again, I’m sad to see Gonchar go, but I’m frankly surprised the Pens’ negotiations with Gonchar even lasted as long as they did, as the writing appeared to be on the wall for some time. I will miss his offensive contributions as badly as I’ll miss screaming his name sandwiched between two F-words.

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One Response to “Sergei Gonchar Signs With Ottawa For Too Much Money, As Expected”

  1. k Says:

    Am I mistaken or was Letang the league leader among defensemen in goals in the postseason?

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