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Penguins acquire offensive Gonchar - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
By Chuck Finder
The addition of Sergei Gonchar not only provides the Penguins with an offensive defenseman splendidly suited for the NHL's rule changes, but it also supplies them two other necessary ingredients:
Somebody whose first two salaries count $5 million per year against the salary cap, but, actually, cost less.
Gonchar, at 31 the youngest of the big-boy class of unrestricted free-agent defensemen available, is scheduled to earn $3.5 million this season and $4.5 million in 2006-07 as Penguins general manager Craig Patrick accelerated the five-year, $25 million deal signed yesterday. Gonchar, who had played for Washington and Boston, is set to make $5.5 million, $6 million and $5.5 million in the final three years.
"We got a premier guy," Patrick said. "There's been nobody better than him the last couple of years. We think it was key to go long term, since he still is pretty young."
After working the telephones the first two days of the free-agent supermarket, Patrick reached an agreement yesterday morning with Gonchar and later with fourth-line tough guy Andre Roy.
Roy, a 6-foot-3, 225-pound left winger and physical presence, played 33 regular-season games and averaged seven minutes per game with Tampa Bay. He played in 21 of 22 postseason games in the Lightning's run to the 2004 Stanley Cup. Roy is to earn $1 million this year as part of an apparent three-year, $3 million deal.
Also, Penguins defenseman Josef Melichar was quoted on a Czech Web site as saying he agreed to his qualifying offer of $585,200, though Patrick said he hadn't heard that from Melichar's camp.
Online hockey sites were buzzing with Penguins talk yesterday, including one that had Sean Burke and Curtis Joseph coming to the club.
"There are a lot of guys high on our list, but [Gonchar] and Scott Niedermayer were the two prominent ones that we'd like to get our hands around," Patrick said at a time when Niedermayer appeared headed elsewhere. "It just took awhile to get this done.
"And there are a lot of people still available. We're going to be talking and talking and talking. Seeing if there's ways to improve. That's something we'll continue to do. Every day."
Gonchar's deal represents the second-highest total and average salary, behind only Edmonton's Chris Pronger, of the free-agent defensemen who have signed.
"When Pittsburgh came up with the deal, I realized that's the team that everybody probably wanted to play for, with the style of play and the way they're playing," Gonchar said. "It's a great opportunity for me to play with Mario [Lemieux] and [Sidney] Crosby. It's going to be something."
Gonchar was the most offensively gifted of the available group, with 425 points in 669 career games, double-digit goals each of the past six years and the most points among NHL defenseman the past four seasons.
"Definitely a difference maker," Penguins coach Eddie Olczyk said. "Somebody that can control the play in all three zones. A real solid piece to the puzzle."
The presence of Gonchar, a two-time All-Star, gives the Penguins another playmaker to go with Dick Tarnstrom and Ric Jackman on a blue-line unit also presently employing Melichar, Brooks Orpik and Rob Scuderi, with Ryan Whitney in the wings.
Another strong point in Gonchar's favor: He played last year with Malkin for Metallurg Magnitogorsk in Russia.
"I don't know if he's going to manage to get here and play for Pittsburgh; I know he's signed for another year to play in Russia," Gonchar said. "Maybe management can get him here, because he's ready to play ... at a top level. Can be a very good forward. Play in any situation, power play, penalty killing."
Страничка Сергея Гончара на сайте
"Звёзды с Востока"
18 октября. Сергей Гончар: "Питтсбург" - не мыльный
пузырь, Кросби - не пустышка // "Спорт-Экспресс"
4 августа. Penguins sign Gonchar - Pittsburgh
4 августа. Penguins acquire offensive Gonchar
- Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
25 июля. Только у нас. Защитник Сергей Гончар: Не
все так плохо, ребята - Советский Спорт
30 октября. Гончар без сознания попал в больницу
8 октября. Сергей Гончар: "Играть за сборную в Евротуре
не буду" // "Спорт-Эсперсс"
4 августа. For Bruins, price is right on Gonchar
- Boston Globe
18 октября. Сергей Гончар: "Питтсбург" - не мыльный пузырь, Кросби - не пустышка // "Спорт-Экспресс"
4 августа. Penguins sign Gonchar - Pittsburgh Tirbune-Review
4 августа. Penguins acquire offensive Gonchar - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
25 июля. Только у нас. Защитник Сергей Гончар: Не все так плохо, ребята - Советский Спорт
30 октября. Гончар без сознания попал в больницу // "Спорт-Экспресс"
8 октября. Сергей Гончар: "Играть за сборную в Евротуре не буду" // "Спорт-Эсперсс"
4 августа. For Bruins, price is right on Gonchar - Boston Globe