One day after acquiring the rights to Sergei Gonchar, the Dallas Stars were able to work out a contract with the veteran defenseman. Dallas Stars GM Jim Nill announced Saturday afternoon that the Stars agreed to terms with Gonchar.
“We’re thrilled,” said Nill. “He’s a very good player, a character player. He’s going to bring a great presence to our dressing room. He’ll help the young kids. He’s been a good player for a lot of years and we’re counting on him to continue to do that here.”
It’s a two-year deal worth $10 million, $5 million per season for the 39-year-old Gonchar, who ranks 19th all-time among NHL defensemen in scoring with 775 points (217 goals, 558 assists) in 1,177 games. He’s a two-time NHL Second All-Star, won a Stanley Cup with Pittsburgh in 2009 and won a silver medal with Russia in the 1998 Olympics and a bronze medal in 2002.
The Stars acquired the rights to Gonchar, who was scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent this summer, from the Ottawa Senators on Friday. The Senators will receive the Stars’ sixth-round pick in this summer’s draft once the contract is signed.
Gonchar, who had 27 points (3 goals, 24 assists) in 45 games last season, gives the Stars seven NHL defenseman under contract for 2013-14. Alex Goligoski, Stephane Robidas, Trevor Daley, Brenden Dillon, Aaron Rome and Philip Larsen are the other six.
“Yeah, I like what we have,” Nill said. “You’re always trying to get better, but when you have seven NHL players on your backend at this time of the year you are doing pretty good for yourself. One thing I have learned in this game is you can never have enough defensemen. You are going to have injuries and you can never have enough depth. One thing we’ve talked about in our organization is adding depth at every position.”
The Stars also have Jordie Benn on defense. He played 26 of the Stars’ 48 games last season. He’s scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent in July and Nill said the Stars plan on bringing Benn back.
“We’ve already started talking to his agent,” said Nill. “We’d like him back.”
The Stars have several defense prospects in the pipeline including Jamie Oleksiak, Patrik Nemeth, Joe Morrow, Kevin Connauton and Cameron Gaunce.
“The young kids are going to come into training camp and if they’re ready for the NHL that’s great, and if they’re not quite ready then that gives us the opportunity to keep them playing in the minors,” Nill said. “We’ll have competition at training camp.”