Sergei Gonchar’s hockey career likely reached the end of the line on Saturday when the Pittsburgh Penguins announced they were releasing him from his tryout contract. The 41-year old Gonchar played in four preseason games for the Penguins, and while his time on the ice in Pittsburgh is over, the team is open to being a part of the next chapter of his hockey life. Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford said on Saturday that should Gonchar not sign elsewhere to play, he would like for the defenseman to stay in the organization in some capacity. [ Yahoo Fantasy Hockey: Sign up for a league today ] As he said last week while still battling for a spot, via Jason Mackey of the Tribune Review , his presence can be a benefit to others on the roster. “I can share (my) experience with them. I’ve been around for a few years. I've been in different situations. You talk with them. There are a few things that I've already shared. I'll try to help this team any way I can. Helping the young guys is one thing that I can do.” Certainly a guy who has played 1,301 NHL games, scored 220 goals (102 on the power play) and recorded 811 points in his career can be a mentor to some of the organization’s young blueliners like Derrick Pouliot, who was sent to the AHL, Olli Maatta, Adam Clendening and Tim Erixon. He, along with Evgeni Malkin, could also serve as another friendly Russian face for winger Sergei Plotnikov, who signed over the summer. The next question then, if this is indeed the end for Gonchar, is do you see him getting into the Hockey Hall of Fame? - - - - - - - Sean Leahy is the associate editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Sean_Leahy MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY:
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TORONTO —Nick Bjugstad admits he was a bit nervous meeting Jaromir Jagr for the first time after a February trade brought the NHL great to the Florida Panthers. “Shaking his hand when I met him was like being a fan boy,” said Bjugstad during the NHL Player Media Tour last month in Toronto. A team that has some promising young talent in its ranks added a legend, who would later sign a one-year extension to stay in Sunrise. At this point in his career, Jagr is the old sage dispensing wisdom to his younger teammates, like those in Philadelphia, Dallas and now Florida. Bjugstad's been a recipient in their short time together. There's a 20-year age gap between them -- Bjugstad was 46 days old when Jagr won his second Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1992 -- so the Panthers forward is just trying to be a sponge. A back injury cut short his 2014-15 season, allowing him only 11 games Jagr, but Bjugstad has already learned a lot from the 43-year old. “We watch what we does on the ice and his puck protection,” he said. “[Panthers GM] Dale [Tallon] always tells us centermen that we need to watch what we does in the corners and it’s unbelievable. We learned a lot from him on the ice and off the ice. He was very talkative and gave a lot of learning points. Obviously he knows what he’s doing. He’s one of the best of all-time. When he talks, we all listen.” Jagr's next piece of advice for Bjugstad might have to be on the topic of organization. In the Panthers’ dressing room, there’s a noticeable difference between the two players' stalls. Jagr’s area is neat and tidy, while Bjugstad’s, as he described it, is a “pig sty.” “I should take notes,” Bjugstad joked. [ Yahoo Fantasy Hockey: Sign up for a league today ] After finishing seventh in the Atlantic Division in 2013-14, Florida improved one place last season, but most notably recorded 25 more points. That success helped Bjugstad avoid the sophomore jinx and tally 24 goals and 43 points. That success also brings expectations of continued improvement heading into the 2015-16 season for the Panthers. “It was a whole different year for everyone involved,” Bjugstad said. “It was an enjoyable year. I guess everyone’s play was kind of looser and everyone kind of got better I feel like just because the culture changed. The organization kind of changed. Vinnie Viola came in and he brought a lot of his staff, military mindset… we went to West Point before the season and everyone kind of came together.” Tallon didn’t tweak his roster much in the off-season. He drafted forward Lawson Crouse eleventh overall; acquired Reilly Smith and the contract of Marc Savard for Jimmy Hayes; and brought in Martin Havlat and David Booth on tryout deals, with only Havlat remaining for now. There’s room for some of the youth in the organization — Crouse, Rocco Grimaldi, Vince Trochek — to establish themselves in the lineup, while the likes of Bjugstad, Aaron Ekblad, Aleksander Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau, among others, continue to progress. Bjugstad made his NHL debut in April 2013, a year after the Panthers took the New Jersey Devils to a seventh in the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He watched on television as a sold out BankAtlantic Center rocked with each goal by the home side and he’s ready for those scenes to return. “We’re hungry. The fans are hungry. We need some playoff time to really get the fans into it down there,” he said. “It would be fun to be able to do that.” MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY: