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Negotiations heat up between Gonchar, Penguins

Jun 19, 2010, 9:30 PM EST

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for gonchar.jpgMy guess – at least during the playoffs – was that Sergei Gonchar played his last game for the Pittsburgh Penguins when the team lost to Montreal in Game 7 of the second round. The chances of that being the case are still fairly high, but Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports that the negotiations are heating up a bit.

He is seeking a multi-year deal, and despite publicly stating his desire to remain with the Penguins, Gonchar has not expressed a willingness to take a significant salary reduction — if any at all.

Reaching a resolution with Gonchar is the club’s top offseason priority. He is one of eight players eligible for unrestricted free agency on July 1. Gonchar is likely to be among the most attractive defensemen among a free-agent class considered strongest on the blue line.

Despite having two solid offensive defensemen in Kris Letang and Alex Goligoski, the Penguins powerplay would suffer a serious blow without Gonchar’s impressive point presence.

He logged big minutes in his time with the team, averaging no less than 24 minutes per game and peaking with an impressive 26:34 average TOI during the 2006-07 season. Gonchar produced an elite-offensive half-decade; few blueliners can match his 259 points in 322 regular season games.

I have to admit, I was a little unhappy when the Penguins originally signed the Russian D-man after the lockout (my hope was the team could snag Scott Niedermayer). Clearly, I was wrong about Gonchar, though.

The question, however, is how much longer he can pull it off for. He’s already 36-years-old, so if the Penguins lock him up for a long time they’ll have to deal with the fallout of a 35+ contract. The team has just under $11 million in cap space according to CapGeek.com (assuming the cap goes up), so it’s not impossible to think that the team will retain their crucial veteran defenseman.

It might not be impossible, but would it be smart? That’s a tough call, especially since signing Gonchar would force the Penguins to remain in a familiar place: very, very close to the salary cap ceiling.

  1. steve - Jun 19, 2010 at 11:55 PM

    The cap space the penguins have should be close to 14, no? Either way though, i think we can consider gonchar gone. There are other good powerplay defensemen out there that the penguins could acquire that won’t take up so much cap space. Pavel Kubina anyone? While Gonchar had an amazing stint in pittsburgh, i think it is the best time to part ways. We still need to lock up other defensive spots, as well as try to grab at least one notable winger to play on the top line.
    Honestly, don’t be surprised if the penguins find some way to dump Kunitz as his contract is taking up a bit 3.75 from the cap. WHile i love the way he plays and his heart, he is grossly overpaid for the type of player he is.

  2. kim jones - Jun 20, 2010 at 1:31 PM

    kunitz needs to be gone enter ladd &sopel of the blackhawks still out on gonchar just depends on the money he wants 5 million is to much kubina would be nice to

  3. gordon - Jun 22, 2010 at 11:56 AM

    If Pitt wants to even smell a chance at the cup in 2011 they need….NEED the Sarge to direct the PP

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