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Could the Penguins sign Dan Hamhuis and Sergei Gonchar?

Jun 27, 2010, 3:30 PM EDT

Thumbnail image for hamhuishitsla.jpgTo be honest, when I heard the news that the Penguins traded for Dan Hamhuis’ negotiating rights, I figured that signaled the end of Sergei Gonchar’s days in Pittsburgh. Apparently that might not be the case, though, as the team hopes to sign both. Shelly Anderson of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has the story.

It’s a vision the Penguins like. A lot. They will find out soon if they can bring it to life.

They see a defense that includes Sergei Gonchar, Dan Hamhuis, Brooks Orpik, Kris Letang and Alex Goligoski as their top five. They are willing to sacrifice bringing in a high-profile winger or two this offseason to turn it into reality.

“That would be the way we would go with our team, with the strength on defense,” general manager Ray Shero said Saturday. “We would go with the guys we have up front and give some needed opportunity to some younger players.”

At first I thought that was little more than “in an ideal world” talk, but after glancing at the Penguins salary cap situation at CapGeek, they might actually be able to swing it. They have most of the team set already (12 forwards if you count Eric Tangradi, four defensemen and two goalies) and about $11.25 million in cap space. My guess is that would be enough to lock the two blueliners down, plus a few minimum salary reserves.

On the bright side, the Penguins would boast one of of the best defensive units in the East. They’d have a nice mixture of defense-first guys (Hamhuis, Brooks Orpik) and offensive-leaning types (Gonchar, Kris Letang, Alex Goligoski). That’s as versatile as any group in the league.

The negative end, though, is that Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin would have to slum it with weak wingers for yet another season. Then again, the free agent crop isn’t exactly rich this year, so maybe that is a minor quibble.

Of course, there’s no guarantee the Penguins will end up with either Gonchar or Hamhuis. They’re set to hit the free agent market if Pittsburgh fails to sign them by Thursday and it’s quite possible that they’re the top two defensemen available.

What do you think? Should the Penguins sacrifice forward depth to load up their defense? If they only could sign one, should it be Gonchar or Hamhuis? Or should they let them both go? Share your thoughts in the comments.

  1. erin l - Jun 27, 2010 at 4:13 PM

    it’d be awesome to get both…but it really depends on the contract situation. hamhuis seems set on testing FA, and frankly he’d get more money elsewhere. that said, i think the idea of having a stronger D is better than getting a winger. Sid has managed to have top 5 scoring and goal scoring with the ‘slummy’ wingers and geno has in the past too. there’s really no huge UFA forward that would fit with the pens, save maybe the aging whitney. personally i’d like better D…it was our downfall this year.

  2. bryan - Jun 27, 2010 at 7:32 PM

    my take is try to sign hamhuiis 1st and then try to sign leopold and eaton 2nd and let gonchar go. i have been a big fan of gonchars since he arrived 5 yrs ago but i think it is time to move on and let the younger guys take over. i think that letang can become the quaterback of the power play along with goligoski. then you would have 6 D men then maybe have lovejoy and engelland split time as the 7 man. then i could see the pairings as orpik/letang. eaton/hamhuis and leopold and goligoski

  3. Jeff - Jun 27, 2010 at 7:50 PM

    Let Gonchar go, sign Hamhuis and Leopold get one winger on Thursday:Svatos, whitney, nolan
    The PP sucked with Gonchar so who cares if he goes, to slow to old now

  4. Jeff - Jun 27, 2010 at 7:54 PM

    Dupuis-Malkin-Free agent
    Looks good to me

  5. yinzermoron - Jun 27, 2010 at 10:50 PM

    trade letang…he’s completely overrated and has middling talent/potential
    that would allow them to sign both Dmen, slight upgrade on wings, and then be in a position to acquire wingers in trade or offseason the next couple of years to RUN AWAY with the cup.
    If le frenchie goalie can stop daydreaming in the net and break his 0-58 streak on breakaway saves.
    Seriously, shero is attempting to address the defensive shortcomings that kept them from the division title and showed up in practically all postseason games this year. they tried the go cheap on D route last year…it didn’t work. the cheap winger route brought two finals trips and a cup (save for hossa)
    speaking of hossa…if the hawks get desperate enough and have to move him – if i’m the penguins i’m all over that. great player, sniper, defensive, and at a great cap hit for the talent (unlike chris kunitz)

  6. hockeypat - Jun 28, 2010 at 1:42 PM

    yinzermoron your name says it all let letang go you are nuts I give credit where credit is due Shero is amazing that is why he is a GM and you are a nut case

  7. yinzermoron - Jun 28, 2010 at 2:11 PM

    letang is at his glass ceiling.
    smallish…not a great skater…not a fantastic passer…can’t hit the net.
    he’s colby armstrong…yinzer press lovin’ – but not nearly that good

  8. James - Jun 28, 2010 at 4:39 PM

    If I was Ray Shero, I would sign Dan Hamhuis to a long term deal, try to sign Sergei Gonchar to a 2 year deal, and bring up some talent from Wilkes Barre, If we sign the 3 people we are approaching today, I think our lines should look like this.

  9. firefire - Jun 29, 2010 at 9:12 PM

    Marian Hossa!? REALLY?! The guy left us once for what he thought was greener pastures. Some bridges are better left burnt. He could have signed a big money, long term deal here to play wing for arguably the best player in the world today, and he chose to leave it. How well do you really think he’d play if he were traded here. I think its obvious he would play like crap. There is something about the burgh that he didn’t like and I don’t see him being very happy if the Pens made a deal for him.
    I’d love to have DH and Gonchar but you have to be realistic with Gonchars deal. 3 years is the absoulte max I would sign Gonchar to. His salary will not come off the books if he retires do to age or a bad injury. They’re hooked for the full amount. Sure Lidstrom is still playing at an older age, but reality is Gonchar is NOT Lidstrom. Theres a reason Lids is a multi time Norris winner and considered one of the greatest D men ever, the same can’t be said for Gonchar so neither should his expectations nor his deal.
    Ideally I’d say let them both go, pick up Volchenkov for around 5 – 5.5 million hopefully. With that you can still get Eaton or maybe Leopold and fill out with a number 6 guy for relatively cheap.
    Orpik – Letang
    Volchenkov – Goligoski
    Lovejoy – Eaton

  10. Alaska Beast - Jun 30, 2010 at 5:34 AM

    How about the Pens give up on gonchar and promote a few guys within the organization. They could then use the extra money to sign
    Kolvachuk, forming one of the best top lines in the league with Crosby at centre, and giving them a solid quarterback for a potentially potent power-play. Besides, Gonchar wants a long term contract, with his age and the natural decline of older players (we all saw him in the playoffs) we would quickly become a liability in two or three seasons. Kolvachuk is just entering his prime, and Crosby could become an even better player, and contribute offensively even more than last year with a guy like kolvachuk on his line.

  11. lilmlakar757475 - Jul 1, 2010 at 3:41 AM

    how can u say letang has low potential and not good he is only like 24 and he is a great ofensive dman and the penguins would never trade for hossa first off because he under a 12year contract he is like 30 so y would u want him so long and only sign hamhuis i love gonchar to death but hes getting old and not very many productive years left in him so should let him go and not take the risk of him sucking how can u blame fleury for sucking most of the time i mean the offense has the puck the whole game and scores wat 2goals of 40shots a game while fleury get 15 on him that is probabily boring as hell having that happen

  12. lilmlakar757475 - Jul 1, 2010 at 3:44 AM

    hahahahahah have u ever even seen the penguins play? how can u say he at his glass cieling wen he only 24 a great offensive presence from the blue line

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