Caps to scratch Gonchar tonight?


Sources have told TSN there is an ”excellent chance” Gonchar will be scratched from tonight’s Washington Capital lineup as they play the Florida Panthers in Sunrise, Fla.

The official reason for his expected absence is likely to be the ”flu” but whatever explanation is given, it’s going to fuel rumours that the Capitals are on the verge of trading the offensive defenceman, perhaps imminently.

But it is more likely that the Caps are simply protecting a valuable asset. Gonchar is coming off a separated shoulder and is logging big minutes on a depleted Washington lineup where he’s the focal point for opposing checkers. And while it’s not likely Gonchar actually has the flu, there is no question the trade speculation is taking a toll on the Russian rearguard.

Sources say he’s extremely fatigued and deeply affected by the uncertainty of his immediate future. Sources also suggest Gonchar’s night off was a mutual decision by the Caps and the defenceman, who feels as though he could use a break.

Toronto continues to be the team most favour to win the Gonchar sweepstakes, and the deal could be completed at any time, but there is no reason to believe it is imminent.