Gonchar set to play 1000th NHL game

When the puck drops in Ottawa tonight, Sergei Gonchar will be playing his 1000th career NHL game. It's quite a milestone -- only 5 other Russians have reached 1000 NHL games (including teammate Alex Kovalev) -- but it's only one milestone of many during Gonchar's storied career.

Gonchar was drafted 14th overall in the 1992 NHL Entry Draft (that's 12 after Alexei Yashin, for those keeping score at home) by the Washington Capitals, where he'd stay for the majority of his first ten season in the NHL. During this time, he won silver and bronze Olympic medals with Russia, and played in four NHL All-Star games. He had a quick stop in Boston before heading to Pittsburgh after the lockout, and spent five seasons with the Penguins, helping lead them to a Stanley Cup in 2009.

Perhaps the most impressive thing about Gonchar's career is his consistency. Once he hit his stride in 1999, he has always been at the top of the NHL's defensemen for points. Here are his stats, along with where he ranked among NHL defensemen:

Season GP G A P Rank
1999-00 73 18 36 54 6th
2000-01 76 19 38 57 5th
2001-02 76 26 33 59 2nd
2002-03 82 18 49 67 2nd
2003-04 71 11 47 58 1st
2005-06 75 12 46 58 8th
2006-07 82 13 54 67 2nd
2007-08 78 12 53 65 2nd
2008-09 25 6 13 19 N/A
2009-10 62 11 39 50 6th

Over the 999 regular season NHL games he's played, he's put up 686 points. As a defenseman. That's one impressive career so far, and he's got until 2013 on his contract to add even more to his totals.

Finally, for your entertainment, below is the video that the Penguins played upon Gonchar's return to Pittsburgh earlier this month:

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