I know there's some doubt out there about the Sergei Gonchar signing, and also disappointment over losing out on perennial favourite Anton Volchenkov as well as the allegedly Volchenokovian Zbynek Michalek.
To me though, this is a smart move on Bryan Murray's part.
Gonchar addresses a couple of serious issues with the team from last year; namely moving the puck out of the defensive zone and having a successful powerplay. I think the extra time spent on the attack because of Gonchar will minimize the need we otherwise would have for a ZM or AV type player. Staying on the attack will do wonders for our defence and the whole unit will look that much better for it.
The signing might also indicate that Murray has more faith in Jared Cowen to transition successfully and contribute in the NHL as a shut-down defenseman than he does in Patrick Wiercioch or David Rundblad to do the same as offensive D-men, at least in the short to medium term. For all of Weircioch's accolades, the highest levels of hockey he's ever played are college and minor Jr. A in the BC league. He's got ALOT to prove.
I also hear the complaints about the inclusion of a 3rd year in the deal; I get those. However I think in terms of his market value it was probably necessary just to sit at the table. It's not ideal in terms of risk, but it's not an ideal world out there. You gotta give a little to get a little.
Conversely, the criticisms about his defensive play are completely valid. He's soft on the puck at times and is of course susceptible to bouts of the imfamous Russian-malaise. I'm not glossing over these issues, I just believe the up-side outweighs the down. The team will pick him up in our own zone and he'll do likewise at the other end.
All in all, I see this as one of the better signings BM has made during his tenure with the Sens. Ambitious, but not overly so. Gonchar has proven again and again he can deliver the goods.
And at the least, I can once again say that I'm looking forward to seeing our power-play this year.