Part of an ongoing series that looks at potential free agents on the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Penguin since: 2005
Cap Hit [Cap Geek]: $5 Million/season
2009-2010 Stats [NHL.com]:
What Ray Shero says:
"He's one of the better defensemen in the league still... It's trying to find the right fit, cap-wise and with term. ... Once we get more into it, we'll find out if we can make a fit."
Sergei Gonchar has been a vital part of the Penguins' success over the past five years. He wears an A. He quarterbacks the team's power play. He's a calming influence in the room.
Unfortunately his skills command a high salary. The Penguins do not have very much cap space and they have several players to sign. Gonchar is reportedly looking at something similar to the $5 million/year he's made over the past five years with the Penguins. That may be too rich for Ray Shero.
There's also the injury factor.
Gonchar missed 20 games due to injury during the 2009-2010 campaign. The year before he only played 25 during the regular season.
At 36 years old, his salary will count against the cap even if he retires.
Taking that into consideration, along with the fact that Gonchar seems to be looking for a multi-year deal, we could be seeing the end of Sarge's time in Pittsburgh.
Of course, Gonchar faced some criticism during the season. Many point to this play in game seven against the Habs as evidence that Gonchar shouldn't be re-signed:
Definitely not his finest moment in black and gold, but also not necessarily a reason for the franchise to turn its back on him.
Ultimately the chances of seeing Gonchar on the Penguins blue line next year seem to be quite slim. The numbers just might not add up. Gonchar seems to be looking for a cap hit and a contract length that the Penguins may not be able or willing to give him.
Next time: Mark Eaton