D Sergei Gonchar, D David Hale
C Matt Cullen, D Andy Sutton, D Anton Volchenkov
CHANGE TAKES an eternity in most national capitals, but Ottawa rebuilt its back end at warp speed. Sergei Gonchar left the Penguins for a three-year, $16.5 million contract mere minutes after the start of the free-agency signing period on July 1, a wham-bam-glam deal that provided the 36-year-old with the extra year he wanted and the Senators with the premier puck-moving defenseman they so desperately craved.
Gonchar's slick passing should remedy the chronic lack of flow between the defensemen and forwards that has undermined the scoring efforts of Daniel Alfredsson (above), Jason Spezza and Alex Kovalev.
So why abandon a Cup favorite in Pittsburgh? "[The Senators] have a mix of young and old players," says Gonchar, who has had at least 50 points in nine of the past 10 seasons. "There's toughness and skill, and they are well-organized. My plan is to play four more years and win another Cup. I think I can do it in Ottawa."