|2009 - Sergei Gonchar||11||39||50||-4||49|
|2009 - Sergei Gonchar||2||10||12||+4||4
Month-by-month Pensburgh grades:
Contract Status: Gonchar is an unrestricted free agent this offseason.
The Good: Gonchar finished third on the team in total points, tied only with Alexei Ponikarovsky with 50. Of course, Poni came on board with most of those points, so it's not like it's an accurate measure of his play in the black and gold. For Gonch, however, it says a lot. It says that, despite the label of "aging defenseman," he's still finding ways to get it done out on the ice. Gonch may have never been the most physical of defensemen throughout his career, but his positioning and ability to play the man makes up for any sort of rough play along the boards.
The not-so-good: To kind of piggy back that last statement in the good: How long can that last? Will he begin to lose his speed or footwork? Will he start to become more liable for slip ups than reliable for big plays?
For the second straight season, Gonch put in less than 70 games worth of work. Last season, of course, he was met with the rigors of shoulder surgery and subsequent recovery before the regular season even started. He came back to put in 25 games and ultimately win the Cup with the Pens. His absence on the PP unit was more than obvious, and his return only exemplified that when he started to chip in and help pick up the team's production. This season, Gonch missed 12 games with a broken left wrist and a few games here or there with the flu. Either way, it doesn't hide the fact that he made the most of his time while on the ice (50 points in 62 games). However, the issue at this point in Gonchar's career is more focused on durability.
Final Verdict: Unless the price is right - and by that I mean, affordable and not LONG long term - then the Pens should make an effort to bring Gonchar back to Pittsburgh. He's just about as much a textbook example of power-play specialist as you're going to find, and really the Pens cannot afford to go hunting for a guy to fill his shoes. Besides, does one even exist for the right price? To kind of tie in with the quote above, the decision to bring Gonchar back should be based on what's good for the future of the Pens as a whole. Sure, he's done his share of damage in the black and gold in the past, but the Penguins cannot afford to keep a guy on the payroll for that reason alone. A lot is relying on how much Gonch still has left in the tank. If he has another season or two in him, then the Pens should not let that slip away.
Question and Discussion: Well, I guess we better just tackle this one now. Should the Pens consider re-signing Gonchar this offseason and, if so, what's the max deal you're willing to see them make (both length and price) to keep him in Pittsburgh?