A CBA is needed first to consummate a trade, so assuming that happens and the season starts in the near future, this Garrioch story titled - "Pittsburgh Penguins Look To Bring Back Ottawa Senators Defenseman Sergei Gonchar", may be relevant:
"If the NHL does start a shortened season next month, don't expect Sergei Gonchar to finish it with the Ottawa Senators. The veteran defenceman, going into the final year of a contract paying him $5.5 million per season, will be targeted for a trade by the Pittsburgh Pengions once a collective bargaining agreement is reached. Whether Gonchar's former team waits until whatever date is set for the trade deadline or makes a pitch before the season begins isn't known, but league sources say Pittsburgh GM Ray Shero has interest in bringing back the 38-year-old."
I missed you "league sources".
Now this isn't the first time Garrioch's written a Gonchar trade story, there have been a few:
This latest one is considerably more specific than any of the previous, so let's unpack it a little.
Would Pittsburgh want Gonchar back?
I could see it. The guy won a Stanley Cup and played in another final in his time with the Penguins. Plus after unloading Zbynek Michalek, and striking out out on Suter/Parise, they have the cap space necessary to bring in a big salary if they choose. Malkin's bro-mance with Gonch shouldn't be discounted either; if you're Shero trying to re-sign #71 after 2013/14 you want the guy as placated as possible. Not to mention, Gonchar can still play decent minutes if he's protected enough, and remains an efficient power-play performer.
Would Ottawa want to trade Gonchar?
I have my doubts. With Cowen sidelined, minus Gonchar, the defensive depth chart projects as; Karlsson, Methot, Phillips, Lundin, Benoit, Wiercioch, Boro. Can't say that group inspires much confidence (said as a person who's loving what Wiercioch is doing in the A). With a thin defence corps I'd expect the Senators to handle a Gonchar trade like they handled the possibility of moving Kuba last year, ie. they'll entertain offers but have no problem watching the asset walk. Sergei played 22 minutes a game last year, and while clearly in decline, is still an important and useful body on a depleted Senators blueline. Trading away what little depth they have for a meager return seems a big gamble if the goal is the postseason.
Would Pittsburgh be offering much?
Pittsburgh has a wealth of defence prospects, arguably the best collection in the league in; Depres, Morrow, Harrington, Dumoulin, Pouliot and Maata. As an organization they could afford to lose one, but would they want to? Especially when the player in question could be acquired for nothing more than money in a matter of months. And while not a fair comparison, look at the return Ottawa got for another aging veteran going back for a second stint with the Penguins -- a 7th round pick for Kovalev. I hope I'm wrong, but I don't think Shero's desperate to overpay here.
It's interesting fodder though, seems like the last good trade rumour round these parts was THE SUMMER OF RICK NASH.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette blogger Seth Rorabaugh has a great blow-by-blow of Gonchar's time in Pittsburgh here, mind you he seems a tad skeptical "Sarge" will be returning...
Are the Penguins going to bring Gonchar back before or after they trade Malkin to the Kings for Dustin Brown?— Seth Rorabaugh (@emptynetters) December 23, 2012
I would put the tail end of the Sens defensive depth at Boro, Weiro, Benoit, Claesson, Gryba. I would expect pairings to have a balance of youth/experience and offense/defense. I could see a first pairing of Karlsson/Methot and a third pairing of Lundin/Phillips. Sens second pairing wasn't a strength last year and they could use this as an opportunity to upgrade.
Gonchar's main contribution in Ottawa would be as the quarterback of a 2nd powerplay unit this year, but he looks like he's lost a step and some strength. In Pittsburgh, Gonchar would quarterback the first powerplay unit and give 2nd pairing minutes at even strength. Pittsburgh will need this for a playoff run and Gonch has proven chemistry there.
Looking at a return, Sens would benefit most from one of Pittsburgh's gritty veteran defenders like Brooks Orpick or Derek Engelland. I would try to package Gonchar with a prospect to get one of these two. Failing that, I would ask for their first or second rounder from a strong 2013 draft.
@PvR The cap and consequently the floor should drop some this season, and the longer the Sens wait to trade Gonchar the more likely they'd be able to stay above the floor, what with paying out a portion of his contract.
But ya, would probably be tight.
@PvR Wonder if the new CBA will permit teams to trade cap hit value.
In a vacuum, trading Gonchar makes sense; especially if it's later in the season and the Senators are out of the playoff picture.
Expecting a deal to occur in the short aftermath of a new CBA, or at all, seems a tad unrealistic. Unless the team brings in some new CBA contract casualty (amnesty?) to replace those 20+ minutes a night that will be needed in Cowen's absence, whatever small return could be netted in a deal with the Penguins does not seem worth it. Improve your playoff chances and let Sarge walk in the summer.