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Numbers Game: Pronger Goes To Philly

Scott Cullen
6/26/2009 8:16:49 PM
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For the second time in their careers, Chris Pronger and Joffrey Lupul trade places.

Numbers Game looks at the deal that sends Pronger to Philadelphia.

The Flyers Get: D Chris Pronger and LW Ryan Dingle.

Pronger, 34, has been an elite NHL defenceman for more than a decade, providing a rare combination of skill and nastiness. 

At 6-foot-6, Pronger is poised, can handle the puck and is well-renowned for his tendency to play on the edge, whether it's with high hits or menacing work with the stick.

Last season, Pronger put up 48 points, the ninth time in the last ten seasons that he has surpassed 40 points (the only year he didn't was in 2002-2003 when he played just five games due to wrist surgery), so he's established a high level of consistency.

Pronger is also a workhorse, having played at least 26 minutes per game in each of the last five seasons and his edgy style should not only endear him to a Flyers fan base that enjoys guys who don't mind getting nasty, it will help the Flyers in their attempts to shut down the top scorers in the Eastern Conference.

At the same time, Pronger has only registered better than a plus-2 rating just once in those five seasons, so there is an argument to be made that he could benefit from more support, but the Flyers have a solid enough defence corps that Pronger won't have to do it all himself.

With just one season left on his current contract, at a cap hit of $6.25-million, Pronger could be an unrestricted free agent at the end of next season so, given the assets that they've surrendered, the Flyers will presumably be interested in getting Pronger signed to a contract extension.

Just as importantly, taking on that salary, which is more than the salaries the Flyers are giving up, puts the Flyers in a precarious salary cap position, so the true final analysis of this deal will have to include whatever cost-cutting move the Flyers make later this summer.

Dingle is a 25-year-old journeyman forward, who has produced little in two years at the pro level after scoring 80 points in 78 games in his last two seasons with the University of Denver.

With Lupul leaving, there should be an even greater opportunity for promising Flyers forward Claude Giroux to play a significant role next season.

The Ducks Get: RW Joffrey Lupul, D Luca Sbisa and two first-round picks

With Scott Niedermayer officially deciding that he would play again next season, the trade of Pronger was practically a foregone conclusion.

Lupul, 25, is making a return to a Ducks organization that -- coincidentally enough -- traded him to Edmonton for Pronger in the summer in 2006.

In his five-year career, Lupul has topped 20 goals three times, including 25 in 2008-2009, so he should be able to help provide the second-line offence that the Ducks have been seeking.

While Lupul is a capable scoring winger, he comes at a hefty price (four years, $17-million) due to a contract extension that kicks in next season.  It's entirely possible that part of the reason the Ducks receive two first-round picks in this trade is that they were willing to take on Lupul's contract.

19-year-old Sbisa played half a season in Philadelphia after he was drafted 19th overall last season, showing a lot of potential (seven points, minus-6 in 39 games) before he was sent back to his junior team in Lethbridge, where he finished with 15 points in 18 games.

There's no rush to get Sbisa into Anaheim's lineup, but he could very well earn a spot on next year's team.  Eventually, Sbisa figures to be a top-four defenceman in Anaheim, but there are enough quality players ahead of him on the Anaheim depth chart that he can be eased into the role.

The Ducks traded the 21st pick, acquired from Philadelphia, to get the 26th and 37th picks from Columbus.  Next year's pick may be a late first-rounder but, as suggested before, it may have been the price of accepting Lupul in the deal.

Anaheim, knowing that Pronger would be entering the final year of his deal, prepared for this eventuality by acquiring Ryan Whitney and James Wisniewski at the trade deadline, so they are well-equipped to be contenders again next season with a stronger offence to augment their defensive core.

Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@ctv.ca




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