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Numbers Game: Stars sign veteran defenceman Gonchar

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Scott Cullen
6/8/2013 1:39:56 PM
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The Dallas Stars wasted no time addressing one of their needs this offseason, making a deal for a veteran defenceman that should help on the power play.

Numbers Game examines the Stars adding Sergei Gonchar.

The Stars Get: D Sergei Gonchar.

39-year-old Sergei Gonchar is, naturally, no longer the player he was at his peak, but has still been a valuable part of the Ottawa Senators' blueline for the past three seasons. Over the last two years, Gonchar has 64 points in 119 games (0.54 points per game ranks 18th in the league over that span) while averaging more than 23 minutes of ice time per game.

He's always been an offensive defenceman, his 101 power play goals and 775 career points ranking 10th and 18th all-time, respectively, among blueliners.

Even at this stage of his career, Gonchar can get the job done on the power play. In three seasons with the Senators, 46 of his 91 points (50.5%) have come on the power play, so he's likely to have a role in improving the Stars' 18th-ranked power play, which means potentially slight production upgrades for the likes of Jamie Benn, Loui Eriksson, Ray Whitney and Alex Goligoski, the four returnees who saw the most power play time for the Stars last season.

Gonchar's game isn't great at even-strength. He's susceptible to get beaten by quicker forwards, so managing his match-ups and zone starts is necessary to get the best results.

In my Stars Off-Season Game Plan, I had suggested that a top four defenceman was one of their needs, so new GM Jim Nill was quick about addressing that area. Dallas made a significant financial commitment, two years and $10-million, to keep Gonchar from hitting the open market and that second season is a sizeable show of faith for a player at this stage of his career.

Getting Gonchar also gives the Stars some flexibility on their defence. There is no need to rush any of their prospects but, if some younger players are ready to make the jump, that could open up trade possibilities with one of the Stars' other veteran defencemen, particularly if that is what's needed to bolster the Stars' forward lines.

The Senators Get: A sixth-round pick.

Getting anything in return for Gonchar counts as a bonus for the Senators because he would have been an unrestricted free agent on July 5th. A sixth-round pick doesn't offer a lot of value, about a one-in-seven chance of yielding an NHL player, but that's more than they would receive if Gonchar left as a free agent.

With Senators D Erik Karlsson missing a good portion of the 2013 season, they needed Gonchar's puck-moving ability, but with Karlsson presumably healthy for next season, the Sens can look to a younger, less expensive, alternative in that role. Before any other acquisitions occur, Patrick Wiercioch looks like one who could benefit from an increased role next season.

Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.

Erik Karlsson and Sergei Gonchar (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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