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'A guy you want on your team'

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
Senators goaltender Brian Elliott is enthused about the addition of veteran defenceman Sergei Gonchar to the Ottawa blue line (Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images).

Brian Elliott is as intrigued as anyone about the new dynamic emerging on the Ottawa Senators blue line.

Count the Ottawa goaltender among those enthusiastically endorsing the arrival of veteran defenceman Sergei Gonchar, who agreed to a three-year free-agent contract on July 1 after spending the last five seasons tormenting the Senators as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

"I definitely think it was a good acquisition," Elliott said from his off-season home in Wisconsin. "He'll definitely help us on the power play. And he’s that calm kind of guy in the back who makes those good, crisp passes and doesn’t panic out there.

"I’ve been impressed with him ever since I started watching him way back when. In Pittsburgh, we saw him a lot and he’s definitely a guy you want on your team. I think it’ll be a good addition."

The addition of Gonchar meant the subtraction of Anton Volchenkov from the Senators blue line. Volchenkov, a shot blocker extraordinaire, moved to the New Jersey Devils in free agency. Elliott admits it'll take some getting used to life without the bruising Russian.

"We’ll see how much it hurts us," said Elliott. "(Volchenkov) is a great guy, he was a great teammate and he blocks a ton of shots. I wish him all the best. We got a different style of player (Gonchar) and, hopefully, that’ll work out for us.

"I think there’ll be guys step up and fill the role that Volchy kind of took up, that shot blocker, that shutdown D-man. I think we’ve got some guys that’ll do that. Hopefully, we won’t miss him too much. But having a guy like Gonchar back there … I’m looking forward to it and, hopefully, we can mesh well and get some good communication going and see where that takes us in the season."

For more from Sens goaltender Brian Elliott, listen to our exclusive Friday Phone Call off-season feature.

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