love the play of this guy lately - Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photo
It would have been almost unfathomable before the season started, but now I'm seriously starting to wonder: should the Senators consider bringing Sergei Gonchar back for one more year?
People talked of trades in the off-season. People talked of trades at the deadline. Some more radical fans may have even mentioned a buyout.
Now I will suggest re-signing the 38 year old defenceman who has been the Senators saviour this season. The season should have been a trying one when Jason Spezza went down, but should have been 1905097254 times worse with the loss of Erik Karlsson. With Jared Cowen already out, that left two old guys that Sens fans didn't much care for (Chris Phillips and Gonchar) three AHL d-men (Patty W, Andre Benoit and Gryba/Boro) and Marc Methot.
Not exactly the leagues finest knights to defend the realm.
And yet, with the help of some great goaltending and great systems play, that rag-tag bunch of blueliners has only managed to make Ottawa the top defensive team in the league, allowing a paltry 2 goals per game. Among that group, while Patrick Wiercioch has been a huge story, proving he has a spot on this team going forward, and Methot has helped Bryan Murray look good, it has been Sergei Gonchar leading the way. His defensive play has been smart and efficient, and he leads the team in assists, admirably filling in for Karlsson on the power play and on the rush.
His 3 year 5.5 million dollar contract wasn't the best one Murray has ever handed out, especially after the first year of the contract. But this year on a team starved for talent from the blue line, Sergei is worth every penny. With the contract ending this year, I would like to see him re-signed, and I will give you two reasons why.
- The NHL isn't exclusively a young man's league anymore. There are old guys all over the league still contributing in big big ways. Hell, Daniel Alfredsson still carries this team on many a night. Why not give Sergei another year at say, 4 million? On a non-cap team, it is money well spent because...
- This would be our line up on the back end:
Look at how well Gonchar is playing at over 25 minutes a night against top competition and try to tell me that he wouldn't be one of the best third pairing d-men this team has ever had. Would make our second unit powerplay much more dangerous and could be deployed in favourable situations. He has shown that even at his age he's better than Gryba, Benoit and Boro, so why not have him in the lineup? For one more year until Cody Ceci shows he is ready, why not?
- Ups and Downs this week highlights what an amazing run Gonchar is on right now. [SSS]
- A great look by Amelia at how our d-men are currently being deployed. [SSS]
- Last chance for tickets to Silver Seven night out. [Adnan]
- Booby lets us know the lay of the land for our prospects as they head towards playoff hockey. [SSS]
- Sens scoring chances against the Buffalo Sabres. [6Sens]
- Prediction panel for tonight full of optimism. Dear Peter says we win, SO WE WIN. [SE]
- Jakob Silfverberg getting some love for his recent play. He really does seem like a keeper. [SE]
- And a funny article about Kyle Turris getting out of his slump [Warren]
- When the team is winning everyone gets some love. The guys at WTYKY give some love to a guy I've been hugely impressed with; Patrick Wiercioch. [WTYKY]
- And lastly, NHL.com wonders if the Sens could be in the running to pick up a top-six forward now that Milan Michalek has had a setback. With Corey Perry off the market, who is available that you would want? [NHL]