I think Gonchar will be hugely missed, but the fact that we will start the season without him lessens the blow. He's a top pairing guy and one of the best PP defensemen in the NHL. You can't NOT miss that. If the offense is clicking to start the season, I think the place we will miss him most is getting it out of the Pens' defensive end. Gonchar could make good passes, skate it out, and made good decisions usually when he had the puck. Letang and Goligoski may be able to make the passes or skate it out just as well, but the reason MT eases them along is for the decision making part. That isn't just built in, so if Goligoski is actually playing in the NHL, I expect a pretty round start to the season.
I have no problem with how MT brings players along. That is something I see him do better than most any coach, and you can't argue with his track record. He doesn't just throw them into the spot they will eventually play. He let's them prove they can play that spot first. IMO, he does a very good job at not setting guys up to fail right off the bat. If he put Letang in a spot last year where he kept screwing up, Letang loses his confidence and we're talking about whether or not Letang can put it together to be a competent d-man right now instead of whether he can eat up some of Gonchar's responsibility.