PITTSBURGH – Sergei Gonchar will be kept out of the Pittsburgh Penguins’ lineup at least through the regular-season opener in two weeks because of a dislocated left shoulder.
Gonchar, who sustained the injury during the first period of the Penguins’ pre-season opener Saturday, led the reigning Eastern Conference champions in ice time last season and was third on the team in scoring with 12 goals and 53 assists.
Pittsburgh general manager Ray Shero said surgery is an option for the 34-year-old defenceman, who is entering his 14th NHL season, but Shero would offer no other timetable.
“I think Sergei is at a point right now where he just needs to gather as much information possible through the doctors and make a decision when he’s comfortable making a decision,” Shero said.
Shero said it was too early to speculate on the minimum amount of time Gonchar will miss. During the preseason two years ago, Penguins centre Evgeni Malkin sustained a dislocated shoulder during the first preseason game that forced him to miss the first four regular season games.
Malkin, however, was only 20 then. If Gonchar ultimately has surgery, he could be out much longer.
Gonchar is one of the NHL’s premier offensive defenceman, having accumulated 430 points in 904 career games. He ranked second in the league in scoring at his position last season with 12 goals and 53 assists for 65 points and has had at least 57 points each of the past eight seasons.
Gonchar’s injury means that Pittsburgh will open the season without their top two defencemen. Ryan Whitney underwent foot surgery last month and is likely out until December.