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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    Logan Couture can at least speak and eat following horrifying mouth injury

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    As much as many of us suffer during a trip to the dentist, few can fathom the horrors hockey players often go through when a puck, stick or fist finds their teeth/mouths. Consult this vintage PHT post from 2010 if you want to cringe, a lot.

    Much like Eddie Lack “only” dealing with a neck sprain, it’s strange to be heartened to hear that Logan Couture can speak and eat after his own painful ordeal, but that’s the positive update from the Mercury News on Tuesday.

    Couture, Wilson said, did not need to have his jaw wired shut after a deflected puck caught him in the mouth on Saturday when the Sharks played the Nashville Predators.

    “Hey, he can speak and eat … and his jaw isn’t wired shut!” Yeesh.

    To little surprise, Couture isn’t playing on Tuesday. As far as the Sharks next three games (Thursday, Friday and Sunday), that remains to be seen.

    As an aside, consider this: on the same day Jonathan Drouin‘s celebrating his birthday after helping the Lightning win, Couture is lucky if he can force down some birthday cake. Life: it isn’t always fair.

    PHT discussed his trip to the dentist on Monday.

    More mouth pain: When David Backes felt like his face was falling off.

    Athanasiou got hurt during that Lack collision, too (and he blames Rask’s hit)

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    The Carolina Hurricanes and Detroit Red Wings both exchanged signs of respect after Eddie Lack left last night’s game on a stretcher, but there’s a little controversy surrounding that situation … from the Red Wings’ perspective.

    You see, Andreas Athanasiou may not have collided with Lack if not for a shove/cross-check by Hurricanes forward Victor Rask.

    Athanasiou is out for the Red Wings tonight, and as the Detroit Free Press’ Helene St. James reports, he blames the Rask hit.

    Here’s a screen grab of that moment via NBCSN/the Fox Sports broadcast:

    Now, check it out in full motion:

    It’s unfortunate that two injuries came of that overtime-clincher, though one may at least mildly defend Rask in noting that Athanasiou was really displaying his blazing speed on that play.

    The Red Wings could very well be eliminated tonight, or soon, but Athanasiou has been a bright spot during a sometimes-glum season for Detroit. Hopefully, like Lack, this is merely a minor issue from an unfortunate collision.

    More promising Eddie Lack news: Hurricanes label his injury a neck strain

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    Yes, it feels a little weird to “cheer” a neck strain, but such injury news feels pretty fantastic for Eddie Lack.

    The Carolina Hurricanes announced that he’s dealing with exactly that on Tuesday morning, not that long after Lack’s scare after being stretchered off the ice following a collision with Detroit Red Wings Andreas Athanasiou.

    Lack ended up being hospitalized, but as it turns out, that was a pretty short-term situation.

    With the positive news in mind, it’s already appropriate to wonder when Lack might be back, particularly since he’s been on quite a tear during Carolina’s unlikely push for a possible playoff spot. The Hurricanes didn’t provide a window of time for his recovery, and Lack himself was vague-if-positive:

    In the mean time, the Hurricanes recalled Alex Nedeljkovic, who one would assume would primarily back up Cam Ward.

    So, long story short: things seem very positive for Lack, though his rehab process remains cloudy.

    Bruins recall McIntyre from AHL on emergency basis

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    Update: As it turns out, Anton Khudobin might be the goalie dealing with an injury, according to the Boston Herald’s Steve Conroy. So, tonight’s starter boils down to Tuukka Rask or Zane McIntyre.

    (Rask it is.)

    ***

    Tuukka Rask was supposed to be back in goal for the Boston Bruins tonight.

    But then, just a couple of hours before their game with the Nashville Predators, the B’s announced they’d recalled goalie Zane McIntyre from the AHL on an emergency basis.

    It’s not yet clear why McIntyre was recalled. Rask missed Saturday’s game in Brooklyn with a lower-body injury, but coach Bruce Cassidy said earlier today that Rask was healthy and ready to go.

    “Tuukka is healthy,” said Cassidy. “That’s what he indicated to me and that’s all I needed to hear. He’ll be our starter tonight.”

    If Rask is unable to play, expect Anton Khudobin to get the nod.

    Khudobin backstopped the B’s to a 2-1 victory over the Isles on Saturday.