Introducing Your NEW Ottawa Senators!
Sorry for missing the big UFA sale-abration…(ugh, forgive me, I’ve been in the USA lately, and I think their kitsch has worn off on me!) but I honestly didn’t expect much from Murray.
Guess I was wrong.
While crossing the big bridge it came across the airwaves that BM had pulled the trigger, and landed one of the biggest UFA Dmen on the market, S. Gonchar.
I won’t say I was stunned by the move, it had certainly been hinted at (Murray commenting about wanting to add mobility to the blueline), and discussion had been hinting BM would target Gonchar, but this seemed more like common sense than inside info. What did surprise me was the speed at which BM moved to get the deal done. It was pretty obvious Gonchar was the name on the top of the list and Murray did what was necessary to see him in black and gold.
Like the signing or not, you’ve got to respect him for making his move.
So, Gonzo for 3 yrs., hmmm. There’s absolutely no debating his pedigree, Gonchar has been the model of consistency as a point producing Dman, and the hope is, regardless of his aging frame, he will bring this key skill set to a team sorely lacking in this attribute.
Another side to this trade is the “mentoring” angle. Can Gonchar help foster the young Karlsson, speeding up his development as the heir apparent to the blueline QB role. Ok, I can see this, but I honestly don’t know if Gonzo is known for his teaching skill, so I find this an interesting concept, but not necessarily a key factor. That being said, learning by osmosis is sure to occur, and there’s no doubting Gonzo makes an excellent example for Karlsson, and Karlsson has the savvy and hockey sense to watch and learn.
Others are also connecting the dots between Gonzo and AK47. Again, not sure this is a real synergy situation, but if it helps inspire Kovy to bring his a game on a more consistent basis, great. The fact remains Kovy was brought on board, in part, to improve the power play, but for the most part was in-effective. However, to be fair, the team was sorely lacking in QB options to get the plays set up, maybe, with Gonzo, Kovalev can more easily get off his outstanding wrist shot, and not be forced to play set up man for lack of alternatives.
Age. And not just Gonchar’s age. Apart from Spezza, the Sens lack an experienced elite player below the age of 35. Alfie, Kovy, and Gonchar, all over 35. Only a fool would expect these aging super-stars to not succumb more frequently to the injury bug, and when this inevitably occurs, do the Sens have the horses to keep the pace in their absence? But this is the natural result of a decade of solid seasons, and the only way to fill key roles is via free agency, with wallet open, and finger crossed.
Now, injuries happen, no matter of age of player, so pointing to age alone is far from definitive as an issue, but older players do, on average, have a greater propensity for injury, even if it doesn’t keep them off the ice, only less impactful. This is an issue, how big of an issue only time will tell.
No doubt adding Gonchar to the roster makes for an undeniable paradigm shift in this teams blueline role. What was once a slow footed, shot blocking shut down D corp. is now a mobile, offense first squad of blueliners. No doubt Murray isn’t done, and with Sutton still unsigned, maybe he will remain in the fold, but right now, this team lacks a “shut-down” pairing.
As for the A-Train…I say thanks for the awesome years in a Sens sweater, here’s hoping the best for you and your family, unless it’s against the Sens of course!