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:
January 28, 2011 - Gonchar On Block? - "...Senators GM Bryan Murray is trying to move Gonchar, who was Ottawa's biggest free-agent signing last off-season."
August 13, 2011 - Cap Floor Crunch Puts Sens On Defensive - "...the club tried to deal Sergei Gonchar ... during the draft in Minnesota in June, but couldn't find any takers."
May 29, 2012 - Five Sens Who Could Be Traded - "...the 35-year-old is heading into the final year of his contract and will be trade bait."
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 tring 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