NHL Trade Rumors: 10 Teams That Need Sergei Gonchar
With the Ottawa Senators sitting 28th overall in the league, and falling quickly, the selling off of players has begun.
With Mike Fisher already traded to the Nashville Predators for draft picks, the Senators will try to move many of their other assets before the February 28 trade deadline.
Sergei Gonchar signed a three-year, $16.5 million contract with the Senators just last summer, but has been frequently mentioned in rumors leaving Ottawa.
Senators owner Eugene Melnyk has reportedly told GM Bryan Murray to get rid of as much salary as possible, which includes dumping Alexei Kovalev, Filip Kuba and Gonchar.
There are several problems with trading Gonchar however, as he holds a no-trade clause, has a history of injuries and is having a terrible season.
Probably the most difficult challenge to overcome is Gonchar's contract situation. He's due $5.5 million each of the next two seasons, and because he was over 35 when he signed it, the cap hit doesn't go away, even if he decides to retire.
Regardless of the issues, Gonchar generally plays a steady two-way game (this season exempted), is a power play expert and has won a Stanley Cup.
He is also the type of player who will do anything to help his team win. In Game 4 of the 2009 Eastern Conference Semifinals, Gonchar suffered a partially torn MCL from a brutal knee-on-knee hit by Alex Ovechkin.
He was expected to miss the rest of the playoffs, but returned just two games later and played through the injury for the rest of the playoffs, helping the Penguins win the Stanley Cup.
That type of heart and desire, combined with Gonchar's skill, could help many teams around the league. Here are 10 of them.
No. 10: Montreal Canadiens
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When it was announced that the Montreal Canadiens had lost Andrei Markov for the rest of the season due to a knee injury, they were left without their top defenseman.
Trade acquisition James Wisniewski and rookie PK Subban have done a good job filling in, but the Canadiens could still use some help.
Gonchar's ability could help spark their relatively weak offense, and he would essentially take over Markov's spot in the payroll, as Markov is an upcoming unrestricted free agent.
No. 9: Nashville Predators
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The Nashville Predators are led on the back end by captain Shea Weber and assistant captain Ryan Suter, who are two of the best defensemen in the league.
After that, it gets pretty thin for the Predators, and with their lackluster offense, Gonchar would be a good addition.
He could help their 25th-ranked power play, and his average of 23:57 ice time per game could ease the load on Weber, Suter, Kevin Klein and Francois Bouillon.
No. 8: Buffalo Sabres
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The Buffalo Sabres, and particularly last season's Calder Trophy winner Tyler Myers, have struggled this season.
After winning the Northeast Division last year, the Sabres have fallen to 10th in the Eastern Conference, and are in danger of missing the playoffs.
Myers could benefit from learning from Gonchar, and the Sabres would get some much needed offensive support for a group of forwards that's been decimated by injury.
No. 7: Boston Bruins
The Boston Bruins are well stocked in solid, defensive defensemen, but they could use a little more offensive pop on the back end.
Gonchar would be a great fit, feeding one-timers to Zdeno Chara on the point on the power play, and his ability to make a good first pass would help the Bruins' transition game.
With Marc Savard officially out for the season, the Bruins could fit Gonchar under the cap this season, but his next two years would be a serious problem for GM Peter Chiarelli.
No. 6: Ottawa Senators
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Realistically, one of the teams that needs Sergei Gonchar is the Ottawa Senators. They just need him to be much better than he has been.
The Sens' young defenseman Erik Karlsson is a brutal minus-25, and isn't ready to be the top defenseman on the team.
With the likelihood that the Senators will trade Chris Phillips for a better return than Gonchar would bring, they should consider keeping Gonchar around.
No. 5: Carolina Hurricanes
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The Carolina Hurricanes could use Sergei Gonchar to help them solidify their hold on a playoff spot.
Their defensemen are a fairly underrated group, but they don't have much offensive talent. Gonchar could certainly help in that regard.
Gonchar would also help Carolina's talented forwards by getting them the puck quickly, and on the tape, leaving the defensive zone.
No. 4: Dallas Stars
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The Dallas Stars have a great group of forwards this year, and Kari Lehtonen has been good enough in net for the Stars to surprise a lot of people.
They've gotten only 15 goals from their defensemen, and the top scorer is Stephane Robidas, with 24 points.
That won't be good enough to go against teams like Detroit, with Nick Lidstrom and Brian Rafalski combining for 78 points.
Gonchar could help the Stars bolster their defense, and his Cup-winning experience would be a much appreciated in Dallas.
No. 3: Toronto Maple Leafs
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With Tomas Kaberle almost certainly leaving Toronto very soon, either via trade or free agency, the Leafs will be devastatingly thin on offensive defensemen.
Kaberle leads Leafs defensemen with 36 points, but second place is a tie between Dion Phaneuf and Luke Schenn, with just 13.
Gonchar's experience and passing skill could help a stagnant Phaneuf rejuvenate his career and get back to the way he was in 2007-08, when he scored 60 points and was a Norris Trophy finalist.
The Leafs have the cap space and would be wise to consider adding Gonchar, if the asking price isn't too steep.
No. 2: New York Rangers
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The Rangers have a lot of things going for them this season, but offense from their defensemen is not one of them.
The Rangers have a grand total of 19 goals from their defensemen this season, and the highest scorer is Dan Girardi, with just 23 points.
The addition of Gonchar could help the Rangers 24th-ranked power play enough to help them pull off a first-round upset in the playoffs.
Gonchar's salary could be a problem for them next season, but if the Rangers could find a way to send Chris Drury the other way, Gonchar would be a huge boost for them.
No. 1: Columbus Blue Jackets
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The Blue Jackets have been looking for a puck-moving defenseman since they joined the league 10 years ago.
Sergei Gonchar could be that player for them, and could still help the Blue Jackets climb into a playoff spot this season.
With the emergence of Derick Brassard and Jakub Voracek, along with Rick Nash, Kristian Huselius and Antoine Vermette, the Jackets have a fast, talented group of forwards, but no one to get them the puck.
Gonchar's presence would also help Kris Russell, who was a standout offensive defenseman in junior, but hasn't transferred that skill to the NHL yet.