Back in June, a few eyebrows were raised when the Dallas Stars acquired the rights to veteran defenseman Sergei Gonchar from the Ottawa Senators and subsequently signed the 39-year-old to a two-year deal worth US$10 million.
It was an aggressive move for a player on his last NHL legs, but new Stars general manager Jim Nill thinks it will pay off in a big way.
“Another piece to the puzzle, and he’s kind of the forgotten man, is Sergei Gonchar,” Nill told NHL.com. “I think he’s really going to solidify our defense. He gives us a dimension we don’t have a lot of. We have a couple of power-play guys (like Alex Goligoski), but not as high-end as Sergei.”
Nill also believes Gonchar will prove a great mentor for some of the young Stars.
“The young kids need a veteran presence,” said Nill. “Now you have that presence in the dressing room that you need. I come from a situation in Detroit where you can never have enough veterans. They know how to win. It’s a lifestyle every day of what you have to do to win. I know these veterans are going to bring that to the young kids that we have, which down the road will pay dividends for us.”
Gonchar won a Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2009. In Dallas, he joins a club that could surprise some people in 2013-14. The Stars have a good mix of young talent (Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, and Brenden Dillon) and veterans (Gonchar, Ray Whitney, Erik Cole, and Shawn Horcoff), plus they’ve got a capable goalie in Kari Lehtonen.