Pittsburgh Penguins fans having been preparing themselves for the departure of star defenseman Sergei Gonchar(notes) as the Free-Agent Frenzy approaches. This morning's confirmation from agent J.P Barry to both TSN and ESPN that his client is going to market, and that there have been no talks with GM Ray Shero last night or this morning, would seem to confirm those fears.
"No movement," Barry said via text message, referring to the three-year deal he seeks for Gonchar, 36.
The Penguins prefer a two-year term at no more than his previous $5 million annual salary, and Barry said last week a two-year deal would need to include an average annual salary raise.
Can't see that as an unfair request from Camp Gonch: In lieu of a longer-term, go for the big money 2-year deal. Rossi reports that the Penguins are prepared to spend to the cap, so that's positive news if you're someone that wants to see them sign both Gonchar and defenseman Dan Hamhuis(notes) to revamp a blue line that was clearly downgraded last summer.
The Post-Gazette has a life-after-Gonchar summary of other defensive options on the UFA market today. Malkin To The Kings thinks the Ottawa Senators could be in on Gonchar when he hits the market; there will be interest around the NHL ... but enough for Gonchar to get what he's looking for elsewhere?
We think he'll sniff around, find an offer or two to put the screws to Shero and then end up back in Pittsburgh for a short-term deal. It makes too much sense for both sides to continue this relationship. But then again, we never thought the Gores would separate, either. (The Edwardses, on the other hand ...)