With the start of a new NHL season now just a little over a month away, the excitement is building in the Nation’s Capital. For the Senators, it will be their 20th season in the league and one that should be an exciting for fans in this city.
The Sens are a rebuilding hockey club but that doesn’t mean they won’t be a competitive one. Over the next month or so, I will feature a number of players that will be key to the team’s success heading into next season and even take a shot at some predictions.
Sergei Gonchar is coming off what was quite possibly his worst season in the NHL. While he was by no means the only one that struggled, Gonchar’s -15 rating and 27 points were certainly not what people have come to expect from the four time All Star. With two more years left on a deal that will pay him $5,500,000 a season, the team is hoping Gonchar can rebound from a sub-par season.
His name has come up in the rumour mill from time to time this off season but I really don’t think there is much of a market for Gonchar at this point.
New Sens head coach Paul MacLean has mentioned Gonchar’s name a couple times as one of the players the team will rely on this season. Clouston and Gonchar never really saw eye to eye as Clouston often refused to put Gonchar in situations where he could succeed. Under MacLean, I fully expect Gonchar to play the right point on the power play and have a chance to put up much better numbers.
On a team that is full of youth, Gonchar will be a key part of the leadership on this team moving forward. With guys like Karlsson and Rundblad expected to get key minutes, it will be helpful to have a guy like Gonchar to guide them through the ups and downs.
For Sergei Gonchar, 2011/2012 represents a fresh start. He has had a season to adjust to life in Ottawa and the coaching change should really benefit the veteran defenceman. A declining skill set is definitely a concern for the 37 year old defenceman but he should be motivated and ready to bounce back this season.
2011/2012 PREDICTION- 70 GP 12 G 30 A 42 PTS
I know some of you are getting tired of hearing about it, but I have removed the sorry excuse for a poll to vote the winner of the SensChirp Search. Many people were experiencing technical issues with the poll so I figured it was a good idea to start fresh.
To keep it simple, I may just post one in the forum and people can vote there. Apologies for all the confusion and thanks to three finalists for being so patient.