The Dallas Stars made a pretty surprising trade last week when they sent a sixth round pick up to the Ottawa Senators in exchange for over-the-hill defenseman Sergei Gonchar. Rather, they traded for the rights to the veteran and had to sign him to a new deal before July 5th rolled around.
That deal came shortly after the trade, as Gonchar agreed to a two-year contract with the Stars, worth $10 million total. That’s the contract he was looking for from the Senators, noting his desire to remain in the league for two more years, and had also been negotiating with a KHL club prior to being traded.
Just how does Gonchar fit in with the Stars? We already know that Dallas was/is in need of help on the blue line. And you don’t pay that type of money for a defenseman unless you are planning on putting him in the top four. And that appears to be the plan for the offensive defenseman.
Gonchar is still plenty capable of putting up points from the blue line. We saw him step into a large role with the Sens when Erik Karlsson was out for most of the year. What he especially excels at is logging minutes on the man advantage. He’ll be a power play weapon for this team.
Of course, with the positives that you get in Gonchar’s offense, you also get the negatives of his defense. Standing on the cusp of 40 years of age, Gonchar isn’t necessarily a guy you want spending too much time in his own end. We’ll have to see if what he brings to the table offensively will overshadow his shortcomings on the defensive end.
Overall, this is a positive move for the Stars. Though $5 million is a large chunk of change for a defenseman of Gonchar’s age, he’ll add a veteran presence and some strong offense to the mix on the blue line. This should turn out to be a good first big move for Jim Nill as general manager.