Sergei Gonchar could help Caps, Devils, others in 10-11

gonchar.jpgAs Brandon discussed earlier, the Pittsburgh Penguins’ decision to extend Kris Letang’s contract likely pushes out Sergei Gonchar barring a considerable pay decrease. When you take into account the fact that Gonchar has earned his $5 million contract for the most part (and often has been arguably worth quite a bit more), I’d say it’s a near-certainty that he’ll be playing somewhere else.

I guess we’ll find out in July, though. In the mean time, I thought it might be fun to look at a few teams who would make sense for Gonchar. I might have missed a few, so feel free to tell me how/if I’m wrong.

Buffalo

2010-11 cap space at this moment (all figures taken from CapGeek.com).: $12.6 million

Major re-signs: None, really.

Case for Gonchar: The Sabres rarely attract big stars, but Gonchar might be a great fit for the scrappy team. While the Russian defenseman has progressed nicely when it comes to playing in his own end, his calling card is his offensive skills. He’s fifth in the league in powerplay points this season among defensemen even though he’s only played in 57 games. With Ryan Miller wrapped up long-term and the rest of their core locked up to nice deals (aside from Thomas Vanek’s huge contract of course), they could probably justify giving the aging D-man a longer contract than most could cough up.

Columbus

2010-11 cap room: $9.68 million

Major re-signs: None

Case for Gonchar: OK, the Blue Jackets are a mess right now, no doubt. They might have to give him a big contract to lure him to Columbus, but he certainly fits a serious need as the franchise lacks much in offensive defensemen beyond the developing Kris Russell. Then again, they did make the playoffs last year so maybe they can rebound?

Nashville

2010-11 cap room: $16.3 million

Major re-signs:Patric Hornqvist, Dan Hamhuis, Dan Ellis?

Case for Gonchar: They have plenty of space and their PP is horrible. I imagine a Weber-Gonchar point combo could help that quite a bit.

More possibilities after the jump, including one that would result in the scariest powerplay in decades.


Dallas

2010-11 cap room: $20 million

Major re-signs: Goalies, James Neal, generally have a lot to sort out.

Case for Gonchar: The Stars are hurting for a No. 1 defenseman. While Gonchar won’t heal all their wounds, he certainly would be a great catalyst for the league’s PP points leader Brad Richards and the Stars’ other great forwards.

New Jersey

2010-11 cap room: $15.9 million

Major re-signs: Ilya Kovalchuk? Paul Martin

Case for Gonchar: With all due respect to the sturdy Martin, the Devils have seen a staggering post-lockout exodus of great defensemen. Gonchar could be a great addition to what, admittedly, would be an expensive blueline if they also brought back Martin. Then again, such speculation is moot if they sign Kovalchuk.

Washington

2010-11 cap room: $19.3 million

Major re-signs: Nicklas Backstrom, Dare I ask: Jose Theodore?

Case for Gonchar: The Capitals could have a nice amount of cap space if they go cheap in net (which, really, might be smart). Now, it’s not like their ridiculous PP needs that much help, but could you imagine a Green-Gonchar-Ovechkin-Backstrom-Semin/Laich man advantage? That’s just terrifying.

Where do you think Gonchar will end up? Am I underestimating his devotion to the Penguins?

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    Predators eliminate Ducks, reach first Stanley Cup Final in franchise history

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    Colton Sissons made a serious argument that the Nashville Predators do, indeed, still have a No. 1 center.

    At least, he certainly played that way on Monday, generating a hat trick as the Predators eliminated the Anaheim Ducks via a 6-3 win, taking the series 4-2.

    In doing so, the Predators advanced to their first Stanley Cup Final in franchise history.

    That 6-3 score is very misleading. While Nashville managed 2-0 and 3-1 leads, there was plenty of drama in this one, as the Ducks did not go down easily. Cam Fowler tied it up 3-3 in the third period, briefly stunning a rowdy crowd in Nashville.

    Sissons was up to the task, however, settling down a bouncing puck on an otherwise stupendous Calle Jarnkrok pass to score the game-winner, notching a hat trick in the process. Sissons continues to be an unlikely hero for a Predators team dealing with the absence of Ryan Johansen (not to mention Mike Fisher, Craig Smith, and others).

    Two empty-netters inflated the score, and they also sapped drama from the closing moments, which must have been quite the relief considering how much resolve Anaheim showed.

    Peter Laviolette distinguishes himself as one of the NHL’s most underrated bench bosses, becoming just the fourth coach in league history to take three different teams to a Stanley Cup Final. He couldn’t win it all with the Philadelphia Flyers, but he does have a ring thanks to his time with the Carolina Hurricanes. Perhaps he’ll take another one this spring?

    It’s quite the moment for GM David Poile, too, after trading Shea Weber for P.K. Subban and Seth Jones for Johansen, among other pivotal moves.

    The Ducks might wonder what could have been if John Gibson played instead of Jonathan Bernier. Bernier struggled early, allowing two goals on the first three shots he faced and generally having a tough Game 6. Pekka Rinne, meanwhile, maintained his mostly great run in the playoffs; he protected a Predators lead even when the Ducks dominated long stretches of play.

    Now the Predators get a nice rest, as the Eastern Conference Final continues with a Game 6 on Tuesday (and possibly a Game 7 on Thursday).

    They’ll limp a bit toward that final round, but the Predators seem to be embracing new territory. And sometimes new heroes.

    Video: Ducks’ 3-3 goal survives goalie interference review

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    When the Nashville Predators went up 3-1 in the third period, it seemed like they might finally put the Anaheim Ducks away in Game 6. The Ducks quickly responded with “Not yet.”

    Two minutes after that 3-1 goal, Chris Wagner kept Anaheim’s hopes alive with a surprising tally. Corey Perry then bumped Pekka Rinne, but he was able to reset before Cam Fowler scored the 3-3 goal 8:52 into the final frame (of regulation).

    In less than six minutes of game time, the tone of the contest changed rapidly. Now we’ll see if either team can get the next tally in the remaining minutes of the third or if the Stanley Cup Playoffs will see yet another overtime contest.

    Here’s the Wagner goal:

    You can see the 3-3 goal in the video above. Hold onto your seats.

    Update: Moments after this was published, Colton Sissons‘ hat-trick goal made it 4-3. Could there be even more drama? We’ll see …

    Game 6 is airing on NBCSN. You can watch online and via the NBC Sports App. Click here for the livestream link.

    Coyotes’ Dylan Strome breaks Memorial Cup record with 7 points in game

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    Dylan Strome’s journey to becoming a full-timer at the NHL level might be a little bumpy, but he continues to distinguish himself at other levels.

    In the case of Monday, it was setting a new Memorial Cup record. With four goals and three assists, Strome’s seven-point game set a new record as he helped the Eerie Otters pummel the Saint John Sea Dogs 12-5.

    They’ll face the Windsor Spitfires on Wednesday to determine which team goes to the tournament’s final round.

    The performance wasn’t lost on his brother Ryan Strome.

    Ducks dominate, but Predators enter third up 2-1

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    So far, it seems like Jonathan Bernier playing instead of John Gibson for the Anaheim Ducks in Game 6 has indeed been a pretty big deal.

    Bernier allowed two goals on the first three shots he faced against to start Game 6, putting the Ducks in an early hole. The Ducks have been absolutely dominating the contest since then, but only Ondrej Kase could get a puck beyond Pekka Rinne through the first 40 minutes.

    Seriously, the play’s been lopsided. Nashville managed a few shots after this tweet, yet it still tells much of the story.