The Dallas Stars and Montreal Canadiens have teammed for a relatively large move — the Stars have sent veteran defenseman Sergei Gonchar to the Habs in exchange for checking forward Travis Moen.
For Montreal, Gonchar could be looked upon to spark the club’s woeful power play. It’s the third-worst unit in the NHL at 7.7 percent and Gonchar, while getting on in age, is still a quality puck-mover with offensive ability. The move with also reunites him with head coach Michel Therrien — the two spent four seasons together in Pittsburgh — and gives the Canadiens three Russians on defense (along with Andrei Markov and Alexei Emelin.)
For Dallas, Moen brings physicality and grittiness to a team mired in a seven-game losing streak, and has extensive experience playing in the Western Conference from his time with Chicago, San Jose and Anaheim (helping the latter to a Stanley Cup in 2007).
“Travis is a proven forward that does all the gritty things needed to win,” Stars GM Jim Nill said in a release. “He brings leadership and experience to our forward group and will be an important part of our penalty kill.”
It’s also worth noting Dallas reportedly tried to deal Gonchar this summer, per Morning-News scribe Mike Heika:
I was almost 100 percent sure that [Stars GM] Jim Nill would find a way to move Sergei Gonchar before the summer was over, but it looks like that could be more difficult than I imagined.
Even with the team willing to eat half of his $5 million salary (the maximum allowed under the new CBA), the Stars could not find a trade partner for the 40-year-old defenseman.
Speaking of eating salary, ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun reports that Dallas will retain eight percent of Gonchar’s salary in the Montreal deal.
In the end, this deal may have simply been about Dallas looking to get out from under the Gonchar contract. It was one of Nill’s first big moves after taking the GM gig and, eventually, proved to be arguably his worst; hopes were high the 40-year-old Russian could come in and provide a stabilizing presence on Dallas’ back end, but it never came to be.
Speaking of contracts, it’s worth noting that Moen has this season and the next remaining on his four-year, $7.4 million deal — one that carries a $1.85M annual cap hit.
Gonchar, meanwhile, will become an unrestricted free agent at season’s end.