Sergei Gonchar still looking for the big bucks?


From the Sporting News:

Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal says the defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins are unlikely to keep star defenseman Sergei Gonchar when his contract runs out after this season because of salary cap considerations.

Matheson points out that Gonchar will be 36 years old and the Pens probably won’t want to invest the approximately $15 million it will take to keep him for three more years.

Nothing against a reputable guy like Matheson, but he's way up in Edmonton which makes it a little questionable how much insight he might have on Pittsburgh negotiations.  That said with possible connections to agents, players or other sources, perhaps he does know a little something.

Whether or not to renew Sergei Gonchar's contract will be the Penguins biggest question in the coming months.  He carries a hefty salary, but he performs a vital role playing #1 defenseman minutes in all situations.  Durability's been a concern of late and youngsters like Kris Letang and Alex Goligoski have shown flashes of brilliance, but not the conisistency and steadiness that Gonchar strives in.

Free agency is a strange beast -- see Wade Redden getting an average of $6.5 million over six seasons just two summers ago -- so it's impossible to say that Gonchar couldn't fetch what he's allegedly asking.

On the other hand, Gonchar and his family seems very comfortable in Pittsburgh, he's on a very good team and is a respected guy in the room.  He's made a handsome sum of money in his 16 year pro career, perhaps the money issue may not be as important as reported.  Money is always a key, but it's not always the only factor.

For the Penguins part, as we mentioned: Pittsburgh has been basically a .500 team WITHOUT Gonchar in the past two seasons and they've been sensational with him.  To lose him would be damaging, to say the least, but over-extending him (in terms of years on the contract or money) is far from ideal.  "Know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em" and that.

The Sergei Gonchar --and Letang -- negotiations will be some of the most interesting off-ice developments for Ray Shero to manage in the upcoming months.  Let's see how it goes and whether or not there's any validity to this report from Canada.

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