For the first time ever, we actually saw our Bryan Murray active on the first day of NHL Free Agency. Actually, he conducted the first big signing on the day, just about 17 minutes after the bell rung and the doors were open. It’s a bit weird that they were able to get this deal done early, but hey, Alex Kovalev can’t be called tampering!
Sergei Gonchar’s 3-year, $16.5 million contract really can be translated into two ways. First, it solves a big need in the Ottawa Senators organization, a Power Play QB and Top Four Defenseman. Murray was able to get Gonchar and also help Alex Kovalev in the process. The magic we saw in the playoffs between Gonchar and Evgeni Malkin on the PP is what everyone hopes can happen to Kovy. A left-handed shot like Sergei can walk the line, faze out penalty killers and dish it off to the sniper of Kovalev.
Gonchar’s signing also provides someone for Erik Karlsson to learn from. Although Karlsson should develop in a much better player then Sergei, especially on the back front, the Russian should learn Special K the ropes much like Zdeno Chara did to Andrej Meszaros (who was traded today to Philly, by the way) in the 2005-2006 season.
There can be negatives to this though. Is that too much money for a 36-year old? Injuries have hampered Gonchar sometimes throughout the last five years. The knee looks to be healthy, but you can never predict these kind of things. One little problem I have is with Chris Phillips due for re-signing next off-season, can they gather enough to do so? Time will tell. It’s a good signing, just not great. Now, to find a nickname…
Anton Volchenkov signed a 6-year (!), $22.5 million with the New Jersey Devils. Clearly, at least according to both Darren Dreger and Bob McKenzie, Jay Grossman and Volchie outpriced themselves. Previous interested teams like the Washington Capitals, Vancouver Canucks, and New York Rangers opted for other guys. It would have been nice for The Bryan to re-sign Anton and trade possibly Filip Kuba, but a 6-year contract is way too risky. I love Volchenkov, but I can see him becoming another Jay McKee, something I can’t believe I’m saying.
Jesse Winchester was re-signed today to a 2-year, $1.5 million contract. Again, it’s a good move but I’m getting the feeling that we may have a huge battle for spots at training camp. Winch is a good asset to have, a good PK’er and a speed demon. Kind of like a young Chris Kelly. For the other Restricted Free Agents left, I am told both Nick Foligno and Peter Regin will be re-signed shortly and Chris Campoli is not that far off.
As well, Matt Cullen has been signed by the Minnesota Wild. Would have liked to have him back, but the two couldn’t come to terms. Andy Sutton should be signing soon. Although Bryan Murray told Brent Wallace his offense should be set, I still think it would help a bunch if they could add a Top Nine Forward, or a Third Line Centre such as Chris Higgins to compliment Nick Foligno and likely Zack Smith.
I’m also going to put it out there…Ilya Kovalchuk will be a member of St.Petersburg in the KHL. Watch out here at SenShot for more exciting news and new additions as they happen!