By Allan Muir
Fans of the Dallas Stars have been waiting to see how new GM Jim Nill would make his mark on the team.
They probably weren't expecting a trade for a 39-year-old defenseman to be his first move.
The Stars today acquired the rights to Sergei Gonchar from the Ottawa Senators for a conditional sixth-round pick. It's believed that the condition is that he signs with the team.
If that's the case, this is a no-risk move for the Stars. Gonchar, who made $5.5 million with the Sens in 2013, becomes a free agent July 5. He's been in talks with Metallurg Magnitogorsk of the KHL, and it's a safe bet they'd be willing to pay him a lot more than Dallas. But it's thought that playing at home is a back-up plan and he'd prefer to play in North America. The Stars are willing to give him two years, but nowhere near the $7 million per he's reportedly by offered by Magnitogorsk. So, if he's willing to sign for considerably less, he'll get the chance to finish off his career in the NHL.
And Dallas might be the perfect spot for him to land. Gonchar, who led Ottawa in assists this season, would get top-four minutes and a significant role on the power play, where he could serve as a role model for/take pressure off of youngsters like Brenden Dillon and Philip Larsen.
Lots of moving pieces here, but this could be a winner for the Stars...as long as they don't expect him to replace Stephane Robidas as a No. 3 defender masquerading as a No. 1. Makes sense for the Senators, too. They add an asset for a player they weren't going to re-sign, and open up a full-time roster spot for one of their young defenders like Patrick Wiercioch, Eric Gryba or Cody Ceci.