Could the Caps face Eric Fehr and Sergei Gonchar in Pittsburgh next season? It's possible. The Pittsburgh Penguins announced on Friday that they have signed the veteran defenseman to a professional tryout contract.
Gonchar, 41, was drafted by the Caps in 1992 and played 10 seasons for Washington before being traded to Boston in 2004 in the infamous tear-down days that eventually led to the team drafting Alex Ovechkin. Gonchar than stomped on the hearts of Caps fans everywhere by signing with Pittsburgh after that season. He spent five seasons with the Penguins from 2005-10 and won a Stanley Cup there in 2009. He had one goal and 13 assists last season playing for the Dallas Stars and Montreal Canadiens.
The tryout contract does not guarantee Gonchar a spot on the Penguins' roster next season and it will be hard for him to crack a defensive lineup that includes Kris Letang, Olli Maatta, Ben Lovejoy and Rob Scuderi. According to Rob Rossi, however, Gonchar's leadership was a major factor in the team's run to the Stanley Cup in 2009 and he still has a relationship with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin which could explain why the Penguins were willing to take a shot on a defenseman when they already look pretty well stocked on the blue line.
A native of Chelyabinsk, Russia, Gonchar has now played for six different teams over his 20 seasons in the NHL. Always an offensive threat from the blue line, Gonchar has tallied 220 goals and 591 assists in his career. His 811 points lead all active NHL defensemen and he is 17th all-time among NHL defensemen in both assists and points.