NHL Trade Rumors: 5 Teams That Would Love to Land Sergei Gonchar

Kyle NicolasContributor IAugust 24, 2011

NHL Trade Rumors: 5 Teams That Would Love to Land Sergei Gonchar

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    Sergei Gonchar is in need of a new home, and the Ottawa Senators will agree with this. After helping the Pittsburgh Penguins to a Stanley Cup, Gonchar signed a massive three-year, $16.5 million contract with the Sens last summer and is yet to really prove he's worth even half of that.

    Making $5.5 million per season, Gonchar's production dropped significantly last year, going from 11 goals and 50 points in 62 games to seven goals and 27 points in 67 games (as well as a pretty despicable minus-15 rating).

    So really it's no wonder the Sens are starting to heavily re-think their investment with the Russian defenseman or looking around for a deal to send him away, particularly to help the Sens open up even more cap space for the future.

    Here are five teams that would be interested in making a deal for his services.

Nashville Predators

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    The Nashville Predators had to really bite the bullet hard this summer when an independent arbitrator awarded captain Shea Weber a one-year contract valued at $7.5 million.

    While I do believe that yes, that number is rather excessive even for a player as talented as Shea Weber, the Preds have the cap room to handle it and even now still have over $14.9 million left to play with.

    Additionally, the Predators have been a team that struggles offensively, with both a pretty anemic power play (15.2 percent, 26th in the league) and unproductive offense (2.6 goals-per-game, 21st in the league) last season.

    Throw in the fact that Gonchar is a veteran defenseman who, in years past, has proven he can handle play in his own defensive zone as well as contribute upwards of 40-50 points per season, and he could be an extremely valuable addition to the Preds lineup, boosting both their strongest and weakest points.

Winnipeg Jets

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    The management of the reincarnated Winnipeg Jets had a pretty tough job this summer trying to improve on a Thrashers squad that hasn't made the playoffs since 2007.

    The problem is they really didn't make any big free agent signings or significant trades this summer and are showing signs of being just as poor in Winnipeg as they always had been in Atlanta.

    The good news is the new Jets are stacked with two of the best scoring-defensemen in the league in Dustin Byfuglien and Tobias Enstrom.

    Throw Sergei Gonchar into the mix and you've got a team that, if they can get their chemistry right, might not need to have a host of offensive talents to win (though they are packing names like Andrew Ladd, Nik Antropov, Evander Kane and Blake Wheeler up font).

    Thus they can probably take on a similar look to that of the Preds and Coyotes and get a lot of their offensive production from their defense, something Gonchar would really boost.

    It would be a big step in the right direction for getting this Jets team to again be something the city of Winnipeg can be proud.

Dallas Stars

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    The Dallas Stars were devastated this summer by the loss of just one player: their offensive juggernaut and captain Brad Richards.

    Just how big of a loss is this? Richards scored 77 points last year to lead the entire team, and his 27 goals last year were second only to Brenden Morrow's 33 tallies. The Stars had two other 70-point-getters in Loui Eriksson and Mike Ribero, and after that no other player had a total higher than 56 (Morrow and Jamie Benn both hit that mark).

    The Stars will rely solely on the likes of Morrow, Ribero, Benn and Erickson to lead the team offensively. Their defense may again struggle to contribute to the score sheet - Trevor Daley was the highest-scoring defenseman with only 27 points.

    Mind you that in one of the worst years of his career, Gonchar equaled this 27 point total.

    With the Stars struggling for offensive depth and defensive contribution (which they've never really received since Sergei Zubov retired), it's no wonder that Gonchar would be a great addition to the roster for the upcoming year and would greatly help the team make a push for the playoffs in what should be an ultra-competitive Pacific Division and Western Conference.

Florida Panthers

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    For all of the work GM Dale Tallon has done this offseason to bring the Panthers competive level up significantly, he's left the blue line group a little bit thin on talent. Adding another veteran in Gonchar would be something to consider looking into.

    As of right now, the big names consist of Ed Jovanovski and Brian Campbell, both acquired during the offseason. Beyond that, however, the names aren't quite as fearsome - Dimitry Kulikov is the best young player they've got.

    Sergei Gonchar would no doubt love to play alongside a veteran like Jovanovski, but would also be an excellent mentor to the large number of young players in the locker room, which is a huge step considering the Panthers are making a big leap toward becoming competitive again.

    The best part of this deal: even with all the huge sums of money the Panthers spent on bringing players in, they still have over $17 million of free cap space to work with, meaning they've got room to expand, grow, and keep their young talent in the fold for years to come. Thus, I think going after Gonchar would be a good idea for Florida, particularly if he can turn his game around and get back to scoring 50-60 points per season again.

Colorado Avalanche

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    The Colorado Avalanche are arguably one of the thinnest teams in the NHL when it comes to their defense, and things got no better when they traded away John-Michael Liles to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

    Now, with the third-youngest team in the NHL, the Avalanche are starving for veteran leadership and solidity. Gonchar would make a great fit in this lineup.

    The Avs have some stellar young talent in their defense, particularly with Erik Johnson and Matt Hunwick, but the likes of Jan Hejda is not going to be enough to really solidify and mature the unit. In fact, on just about any other team in the NHL, Hejda would be a second-paring defenseman at best.

    The Avs have a significant amount of cap space to work with (just over $16 million), and acquiring Gonchar would be great for both the players who will be staying with the team in the NHL and those players who could really use a little bit more time to mature in the minors, as they'll get that chance with Gonchar on the roster. 

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