Ottawa Senators: Getting the Most from Sergei Gonchar

Matthew Rutledge-TaylorContributor IJanuary 29, 2011

UNIONDALE, NY - JANUARY 13:  Sergei Gonchar #55 of the Ottawa Senators skates during warmups before an NHL hockey game against the New York Islanders at the Nassau Coliseum on January 13, 2011 in Uniondale, New York.  (Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)
Paul Bereswill/Getty Images

In an article in today's Ottawa Sun, Bruce Garrioch reports that Ottawa Senators GM Brian Murray may by trying to trade Sergei Gonchar

The star defenceman has underachieved this year and is not living up to his three-year, $16.5 million deal signed this past summer.

Everyone can agree that the Sens are not getting good value for their dollar.  Gonchar has six goals and 15 assists, heading into the All-Star break.

This puts him on pace for only 33 points in 82 games, which would be his worst statistical production since 1997-98 (excluding seasons with fewer than 62 games played).

One factor that cannot be denied is that Gonchar, aged 36, is no longer in his prime, and he cannot be expected to produce points at the same rate as he did when he was in his 20s. 

However, it was not that long ago that Gonchar was scoring in the 60-point range for the Penguins.

What's the difference, apart from Gonchar being slightly older?  The coach.

Cory Clouston, who previously coached the Senators' farm team in Binghamton, has been praised for this efforts in developing the Sens' younger players, but his ability to connect with the team's veteran players has been questioned.

For example, Clouston has not consistently played Gonchar on his preferred right side.

The Senators are in a transitional phase.  In additional to roster changes, it is widely believed that there with be both a new coach and general manager in place next season. 

If Gonchar's contract is unmovable, then maybe the Sens should consider bringing in a coach who can get the most out of the defenceman.

Who has Gonchar had his most recent success under?  In three full seasons under Michel Therrien from 2005-08, Gonchar scored 37 goals and 153 assists.  Gonchar also scored 19 points in 25 games in 2008-09.

Want to get more out of Gonchar?  Maybe the Sens should consider Therrian as the next coach.  He is currently scouting for the Minnesota Wild.