Sens' Gonchar on block?

Is dealing Sergei Gonchar fantasy or reality before the Feb. 28 deadline?

League sources say Senators GM Bryan Murray is trying to move Gonchar, who was Ottawa’s biggest free-agent signing last off-season.

While the names of defenceman Chris Phillips and winger Jarkko Ruutu have been bandied about on the trade market for months, Gonchar’s availability has only just surfaced and comes as a bit of a surprise.

Gonchar, 36, arrived amid great fanfare when he signed as an unrestricted free agent on July 1, but has produced only six goals and 15 assists in 50 games and is a brutal minus-17.

It’s little wonder Murray is trying to trade him.

There are plenty of teams looking for defencemen as the deadline approaches — the Sharks, Blue Jackets and Bruins among them.

With two years and $11 million (all terms US) left on the three-year, $16.5-million deal he signed after spending five seasons with the Penguins, Gonchar isn’t an attractive option for many teams.

“You could deal him, but you’re going to have to take somebody back,” said one NHL insider. “It’s going to have to be a dollar-for-dollar, which means they’ll have to take someone’s big contract back.

“This is going to be a really tough deal for (the Senators) to make.”

So, what do they do? The Senators can’t afford to have Gonchar keep performing like he has.

He has a no-movement clause, so the Senators would need his permission to deal him.

Outside of Ottawa, there’s a belief a lot of Gonchar’s troubles are a result of the way coach Cory Clouston has used him. Gonchar has switched between the left and right side — never really looking comfortable in his time with Ottawa.