<
>

Caps get defenseman, picks in return

BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins acquired defenseman Sergei Gonchar from the Washington Capitals on Wednesday in a bid to improve their scoring punch on the power play.


The Bruins dealt Shaone Morrisonn and first- and second-round
selections in the 2004 draft for the 29-year-old Gonchar, general manager Mike O'Connell announced.

"The addition of Sergei makes us a better hockey club,"
O'Connell said. "He is one of the premier offensive defensemen in
the game and that was an element that we felt needed upgrading on
our team. He moves the puck very well, has great awareness on the
ice and will be a great addition to our power play."

The Bruins rank 14th in the league in power-play scoring with 39
goals in 242 opportunities (16.1 percent).

Gonchar was leading the Capitals with 42 assists and 49 points
in 56 games. He had four power-play goals and 11 multiple-point
games. Morrisonn had one goal and six assists for Boston in 27
games this season.

The trade is the latest move by the Capitals to slash their
payroll. Gonchar, the leading scorer among NHL defensemen this
season, follows Steve Konowalchuk, Jaromir Jagr, Peter Bondra and
league scoring leader Robert Lang out the door.

Capitals general manager George McPhee said he was only
considering deals in which the Capitals would get a young
defenseman in return.

"The market was very limited, because there weren't many teams willing to give up a young defenseman," McPhee said.

The trade leaves Washington without a player with more than 27
points this season. McPhee said the moves give the Capitals a
foundation of young, talented players.

"It's been difficult, but ... we're trying to do what we think
is best for the hockey club in the near future," he said.

Gonchar, who turns 30 next month, is in the final year of a
contract this pays him $3.65 million this season. He becomes
eligible for arbitration this summer and will become an
unrestricted free agent the following year. He'd expressed a desire
to leave the Capitals rather than be a part of a long-term
rebuilding process.

"Sergei Gonchar is an outstanding player, but given the uncertainty we are all facing next season and his impending unrestricted free agency thereafter, we thought it best to make the move to acquire young assets now," said Capitals general manager George McPhee. "We wish Sergei and his family the best."

With a trade imminent, the Capitals had Gonchar sit out Tuesday
night's game against Florida as a healthy scratch so as not to risk
an injury that would spoil the deal.

The 6-foot-2-inch, 215-pound native of Chelyabinsk, Russia, had
spent his entire career with Washington after the Capitals selected
him with the 14th overall pick in the 1992 draft.

Since the start of the 1998-99 season, he's been the leading
scorer among NHL defensemen with 109 goals. He's second among
defensemen in points with 317.

Gonchar has 144 goals and 272 assists for 416 points with 517
penalty minutes in 654 career games.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.