40-Year-Old Defenseman – Dallas Stars
Sergei Gonchar Contract Information:
Gonchar agreed to a two-year deal with the Stars at $5 million per season in June of 2013.
Gonchar (ankle) is not expected to return this week, Mark Stepneski of the teamís official site reports.
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Age is determined on October 1st of each season.No Yes
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RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
Traded for and then signed to a two-year, $10 million deal last June, Gonchar is expected to play big minutes at even strength and on the power play for Dallas this season. He racked up 27 points in 45 games last year and is a good bet to lead the Stars' blue line in ice time and scoring this year.
Goncharís time as one of the top offensive defensemen in the NHL has passed and he now plays more of a support and mentorís role for the Senators. That being said, he had a decent offensive year in 2011-12, registering a point every second game; Gonchar had five goals and 32 assists in 74 games, quite serviceable numbers. While he no longer has the legs to keep up with the speed of todayís game, he has adjusted his style and plays more of a positional game when defending. Look for Goncharís numbers to improve slightly from the previous season as he should be much more comfortable playing in head coach Paul MacLeanís up-tempo system. Gonchar will continue to see time on the first power play unit, playing a support role for Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson. Five to 10 goals and upwards of 35-40 assists isnít out of the question, for Gonchar, but don't pull the trigger on the veteran in lieu of a younger player with more upside, especially in keeper leagues.
Gonchar had a disappointing 2010-11 season, his first with the Senators. With only seven goals and 20 assists in 67 games, the veteran defenseman was the focus of a lot of frustration on the part of Senators fans as the season progressed. That season ended early for Gonchar though, as he suffered a concussion in a March 19 game against Tampa Bay and did not return to the lineup. He's now fully recovered and should have a better year in 2011-12. Gonchar will likely play the right point on the power play, allowing him to get off his excellent one-timer, something that he wasn't allowed to do much of under former head coach Cory Clouston, who insisted on playing him on the left point for the majority of last season. While Gonchar won't hit the offensive highs of years past, he should be able to get upwards of 15 goals and 35 assists in a more offensive-minded system under new head coach Paul MacLean.
Gonchar was Ottawa's biggest free agent pickup of the offseason and will be counted on to quarterback the first power play unit. He should be able to hit at least 50 points again this season, with 15-20 goals not out of the question. The 35-year-old blueliner is still amongst the elite of NHL quarterbacks and will likely go early in most fantasy drafts. Injuries are an obvious concern with players in their mid- to late-thirties, but Gonchar is still in tremendous physical shape.
Gonchar is the consummate professional who endured a tough season after missing the first few months with a shoulder injury and then suffered a torn MCL in his right knee when Alexander Ovechkin collided with him in a questionable hit on the side boards. Gonchar's on-ice play slipped a little bit, but it's hard to say whether it was because of the natural aging process -- he's 35 years of age -- or because of his missed time. Pittsburgh needs him to be healthy after losing Rob Scuderi and Hal Gill in the offseason. Whether he can still handle 28 minutes per game remains to be seen, but that's how much he'll likely play.
Was there a bigger slap-in-the-face move than the NHL deciding to keep Gonchar's name off the All-Star ballot? It would have been really fitting to see Gonchar win the Norris Award. It could have happened too, as the skilled defenseman finished with 65 points -- 38 of those coming on the man advantage. Gonchar's age (34) and his minutes per game (25:54) are two of the lone concerns with Gonchar. The Pens are deeper than ever on the blue line, however, and that should help keep the power-play specialist healthy.
Few defenders can match Gonchar's consistency as an offensive defenseman in the NHL. Last year he finished second among all blueliners with 67 points (13,54) and tied for the NHL lead with 48 power-play points (10,38). He's below average in his own end, as evidenced by a minus-6 rating, but fantasy owners need not worry about his only shortcoming. Expect more elite-level scoring from Gonchar, even with fellow defender Ryan Whitney vying for top billing.
Like it or not, Gonchar is a big part of the Penguins' future. Five years and $25 million have a way of doing that for a player. Gonchar struggled in Olczyk's system-less defense, but came to life once new coach Michel Therrien installed a definite plan based on positioning in December. Prior to the Winter Olympics break, the 32-year-old defender put up 35 points (7/28) in 54 games. After the Olympics, Gonchar totaled 23 points (5/18) in 21 contests. Expectations were much greater out of the gate, however, and may have left a bad taste in more than a few fantasy owners' mouths. As a result, Gonchar may slip further in drafts than he should. Grab him if and when he does.
Not that he needs it, but the open ice can do nothing but help the four-time All-Star. He has recorded more goals (74) and more points (241) than any other NHL defenseman since 2000-01. Gonchar was the first big signing by the team -- five years, $25 million. He figures to set career highs in scoring across the board this year.