Another day, another article discussing Bryan Murray’s penchant for signing an aging Russian hockey player. While much of the emphasis remains tiredly focused on numbers like 36 (Gonchar’s age), 3 (the term of his contract) or 5.5 (his cap hit in millions of dollars), I’m here to provide you with some numbers that are pretty relative to Gonchar’s signing:
- 2005/06: 23, 42, 65, 33
- 2006/07: 18, 29, 47, 22
- 2007/08: 35, 49, 84, 47
- 2008/09: 26, 39, 65, 32
- 2009/10: 18, 31, 49, 14
Recognize them? Probably not. They’re Alexei Kovalev’s goal, assist, point and power play point production totals for the past five seasons. By now I’m assuming that you’re well versed in the logic that because of the arrival of Gonchar, by extension, Kovalev will inevitably be more productive. In Montreal, Kovalev enjoyed some fruitful seasons when another Russian defenceman, Andrei Markov, emerged as an offensive threat on the power play. (Ed. note: It’s unfortunate that Markov was injured for half of last season. His injury created too small of a sample size to truly evaluate how effectively he performed without Kovalev.)
In what can only be classified as a disappointing season, one simple glance at Kovalev’s production, can help explain why his numbers waned. He’s a power play specialist who relies upon the talent around him. And on Ottawa’s blueline, there wasn’t any from an offensive standpoint. (Ed. note: Until Karlsson’s emergence late in the year.)
Whether or not Gonchar can truly replicate the success and chemistry that he shared with Malkin is something that can only be ascertained once the season is underway. Regardless, because of the similarities in how Malkin and Kovalev work almost exclusively along the half-wall by the right-faceoff circle, it’s reason enough for some optimism. And who knows, if Kovalev can add 10-15 points to last season’s power play totals, his inconsistent lulls will inevitably get smaller and maybe fans will ease up on his criticisms. Actually, forget that. Cracking on Kovalev for being enigmatic is easier than it is to poke fun at Don Brennan for authoring pieces that encourage the Senators to sign local players and Ottawa 67’s graduates.
Episode 25 of The 6th Sens Podcast
Due to some commitments that go beyond this website, it’s been awhile since we’ve done one of our shows. Consequently, and we jumped back in studios to lend our thoughts on things that we missed out on, like the NHL Draft, July 1st, Jason Spezza, and Corey Locke.
As always, you can subscribe/download/stream the episode or entire catalogue of episodes from Itunes. Or you can download the file by right-clicking and saving this file. Or you can simply stream the episode below. We hope you enjoy it. If you have any questions or comments about the podcast, please leave us some feedback in the comment thread below. Thanks for listening, we hope you enjoy the show.
Here’s the tracklisting for the podcast: Delta Spirit Bushwick Blues; Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin Sink/Let It Sway; The Soft Pack Pull Out; Scott Walker 30 Century Man.