The Dallas Stars have acquired the rights to 39-year-old defenseman Sergei Gonchar from the Ottawa Senators for a conditional sixth-round pick.
Gonchar, an unrestricted free agent when free agency opens in early July, had to waive his no-trade clause prior to the completion of the move. He had reportedly been seeking a two-year deal from the Senators with the threat of heading to Russia listed as a legitimate possibility by several news sources.
Stars General Manager Jim Nill is reportedly willing to go two years for Gonchar, depending on the cost.
Gonchar was drafted in the first round of the 1992 NHL Entry Draft by the Washington Capitals. Over 1,177 games in his career, Gonchar has been credited with 775 points. He is an offensive-minded defenseman who the Stars hope still has some gas left in his tank.
The trade fills a very specific need for the Stars while also creating a surplus to allow them to pursue other trades.
The Stars power play was a middle-of-the-pack 17 percent. As unimpressive as that is, it was still a significant improvement from the 2012 season, where the Stars finished dead last in the NHL at 13.5 percent. The ranking jump was significant, but the actual product wasn't much better.
In 2012, the Stars averaged 39.8 shots per 60 minutes of power play time. They hit 42.9 in 2013. Again, improvement, but not enough.
Gonchar's offensive abilities will be especially valuable to the Stars on the power play. Team effects are in play here, but Gonchar would have led all Stars players in shots generated on the power play by six per 60 minutes. Goals require shots, and the Stars still don't generate enough of them. Gonchar is a tailor-made remedy for what ailed the Stars with the extra man.
The potential addition of Gonchar also adds to the Stars growing surplus of NHL-ready defenders. Dallas has a returning group of seven NHL defenders. They also have four NHL-ready or near-NHL-ready prospects in the AHL. If anything, this move signals significant changes going forward this summer. They have numerous assets available with which they can make further moves.
Gonchar should slot in the Stars' top four. If the Stars keep Alex Goligoski and Brenden Dillon together, they could roll with a veteran pair of Stephane Robidas and Gonchar.
A more likely scenario seems to pit Goligoski with Gonchar and Dillon with Robidas. Gonchar and Goligoski skated together for close to 100 even-strength minutes in the 2010 season with Pittsburgh, so the familiarity should be there.
It's hard to not like this move for the Stars. They get an established top-four player for relatively nothing.
The jokes about the Stars acquiring old players are coming, but old age doesn't necessarily make a player bad. Gonchar has a lot to offer the Stars, and given their immense amount of salary cap space, should make this an easy contract to negotiate.