Senators Player Profile: Sergei Gonchar

This is the thirteenth in a series of profiles on each player for the Ottawa Senators.

Sergei Gonchar, D, Contract: 5.5/13 (UFA)
FA 2010 (Murray), 6’2, Shoots L, YOB 1974, Chelyabinsk, Rus
2008-09 25-6-13-19 +6 26pim TOI 25:11 BkS 38
2009-10 62-11-39-50 -4 49pim TOI 24:23 BkS 92
2010-11 67-7-20-27 -15 20pim TOI 23:11 BkS 94

Sergei Gonchar was Ottawa’s big free agent signing in 2010.  He was the player the Sens targeted (www.thehockeynews.com/articles/34331-Ottawa-Senators-sign-defenceman-Sergei-Gonchar-to-threeyear-deal.html) and most believed it was a great signing at the time (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PO4RGQUjv3c).

The season, as for Senators in general, did not go as planned for Gonchar.  Up through mid-December he struggled defensively (34-4-12-16 -19).  Afterwards his defensive play improved, but his offensive totals slipped (33-3-8-11 +4).  His season was ended by a concussion in March; it was his worst year defensively since 2003-04 (-20) and his worst season offensively (in terms of points-per-game) since 1997-98.  Despite all the negativity, he was second on the team in powerplay points with 20 (Erik Karlsson beat him with 21 in 8 more games); his production was despite Cory Clouston not always playing him on his preferred point position on the powerplay, slam.canoe.ca/ Slam/Hockey/NHL/Ottawa/2010/11/03/15961036.html).

There was talk during the season of trading Gonchar (www.ottawasun.com/sports/ hockey/2011/01/28/17078251.html) and that talk has continued in the off-season.  I understand the frustration, but I believe he deserves a pass on this season’s struggles.  It would be one thing if he didn’t deliver when the rest of the team was playing well, but the entire lineup was a disappointment.  Gonchar is one of the most dynamic offensive defenseman of his generation and while he’s not going to produce like he did in Pittsburgh, he’s also not playing with Sidney Crosby and Evgeny Malkin in Ottawa.  I expect him to rebound next season and if he can stay healthy put up 10 goals and 40 points.

The press conference with Murray and Gonchar: video.senators.nhl.com/videocenter/ console?id=73711
Interview with Gonchar early in the season: video.senators.nhl.com/videocenter/ console?id=82082
Gonchar scores: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zxoLy70UFEE

Next up is Chris Phillips.

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