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Gonchar, Pens continue discussions on contract extension

From TSN:

The Pittsburgh Penguins and Sergei Gonchar have opened up discussions on a new contract.

The defenceman's agent JP Barry met Penguins general manager Ray Shero Tuesday in Calgary.  The two sides began preliminary discussions that focused mainly on term.

The 35-year old Gonchar, who signed a five-year deal with the Penguins coming out of the lockout, is set to become a free agent at the end of the season.

Not unusual or unexpected.  The two sides have discussed the matter before, but decided to put off talk for a while.   JP Barry is based in Calgary, so with the Penguins swinging through town it was only natural (and encouraging) that Ray Shero stop by and a have face-to-face conversation.

Rumors have stated Gonchar is looking for a long-term (3 or 4 year) contract at or about his same average salary of $5 million.  It's unknown how true that might be, but obviously for a 36 year old veteran like Gonchar -- the longer of a term he can negotiate on these guaranteed deals, the better for him. 

For Shero's part, he's got to consider the salary cap as a whole, since he already has about $42 million for 14 players set aside for next season.  Shero must also weigh Gonchar's value; there's no doubt he's the #1 defenseman in Pittsburgh and the team plays much better with him than without him.  But at what price and how long?  That is the question that needs to be answered.

Dialouge is a good thing though, better to be communicating regularly than have an impasse or a lot of quiet time as the clock ticks towards July 1.