The Odds On Chris Pronger
Chris Pronger is on the block, we know that much. What we don’t know is where he could be going. We’ve heard about which teams might be interested, and which teams he may or may not be willing to go to, but aside from a trade request from Florida on draft day, and some ongoing negotiations with the Maple Leafs, we haven’t heard anything really concrete. Given that, I figure it will be fun to jump in on the speculation, and try to forecast where he might end up, and what the likelihood of each scenario is of happening.
The best guess is that Kevin Lowe will try to get at least one defenseman in return, especially one who can take over a lot of Pronger’s responsibilities; looking at the market though, I don’t know if that will happen. He might be better off getting prospects or forwards, and patching together a defense out of the free agent market. With that being said, the last thing I'll add before getting into the prospective trades is a plug for Grabia's Oilers off-season scenarios over at The Battle of Alberta.
Odds – Destination
1 000 000-1 Calgary Flames
I can’t begin to imagine a scenario where this would happen, nor could anyone be prepared for the fallout in Edmonton that would occur if this actually happened. In any case, now that Jordan Leopold has been shipped to Colorado, I don’t think the Flames have a defenseman who could entice the Oilers, since Dion Phaneuf is untouchable. Still, it’s fun to imagine this as a destination.
Probable Trade: Pronger for Huselius. Matt probably considers them to be the same player.
75-1 Vancouver Canucks
It’s very unlikely that Kevin Lowe would agree to trade Pronger to a division rival. The Canucks are also going to attempt to resign Jovanovski first, but if they’re unsuccessful, Pronger may be too rich for their blood (both in terms of the financial demand and the players they’d have to give up. The only way I could see this happening is if the Canucks agree to send Mattias Ohlund and a prospect or two back to Edmonton.
Probable Trade: Pronger for Ohlund, Jarkko Ruutu, and a 2007 2nd Round Draft Pick
60-1 Ottawa Senators
They aren’t a very likely landing spot, given his aversion to playing there, and the fact that they just resigned Wade Redden. Still, if they offered up a young forward like Antoine Vermette or free agent-to-be Martin Havlat, and one or two of their defenseman, Lowe would have to listen.
Probable Trade: Pronger, Matt Greene, and a 2007 3rd Round Pick for Martin Havlat, Chris Phillips, and Anton Volchenkov
50-1 St. Louis Blues
This would certainly make Lauren Pronger happy. However, I don’t think the Oilers have any interest in reacquiring Eric Brewer, so unless the Blues are willing to part with first overall pick Erik Johnson, there will be no homecoming in St. Louis for the Prongers.
Probable Trade: Pronger for Erik Johnson, and I don’t know who else. Seriously, do they have any tradeable assets aside from future draft picks and their two young goalies (Bacashihua and Schwartz)?
40-1 Montreal Canadiens
I initially put them on the list just to torment Grabia with the thought of Prongs ending up with Les Habitants, but the more I thought about this, the more it makes sense. The reason their odds aren’t higher is because Pronger hasn’t listed them, as far as we know, as a suitable destination. Also, if marital infidelity is really the reason behind the trade request, I can’t think of a worse place to send him. Between the celebrity attached to hockey players, the sheer number of attractive women, and the sexually liberal culture in la belle province, he would probably turn in to the modern day Wilt Chamberlain.
As for the nuts and bolts of the trade, I could see Bob Gainey going after a franchise defenseman, and a package of Andrei Markov, prospect Andrei Kastitsyn or Alex Perezhogin, and utility man Mathieu Dandenault might get it done.
Probable Trade: Pronger for Andrei Markov, Mathieu Dandenault, and Andrei Kastitsyn
30-1 New Jersey Devils
Their two all-world defenseman, Scott Stevens and Scott Niedermayer, helped anchor the championship teams of the 1990s and early 2000s. With Stevens retired, and Niedermayer in Anaheim, the team suffered this past year. Now, they might lose franchise forward Patrick Elias this off-season. The upshot of this is that they would then have the cap room to pursue Pronger; the big question, however, would be whether or not they had the assets to make it happen.
If I were the Oilers GM, I would ask for center Zach Parise as the centerpiece of any trade; I wonder if Lowe would be interested, since he traded back in the draft three years ago when he was on the clock and could have taken Parise (they ended up with Marc-Andre Pouliot a few picks later, for those curious). I don’t think Scott Gomez or Brian Gionta are for sale, so if Parise isn’t moved, the Oil may have to look at David Hale and/or Paul Martin, two young defenseman, as the return. Hale is a physical player, and the Prime Minister is a more athletic, well-rounded player. They’d be an upgrade over Doug Lynch and Jeff Woywitka, for what it’s worth. I just don’t see who else the Devils could throw in, since this pair won’t get the deal done on their own. If Lowe has interest in a big forward like Viktor Kozlov, it could work.
Probable Trade: Pronger for Paul Martin, David Hale, and Viktor Kozlov
25-1 Chicago Blackhawks
If the Oilers are looking to get younger in the Pronger trade, the Hawks definitely have the assets to make a desirable offer. Brent Seabrooke or Cam Barker would make an excellent centerpiece, and the Hawks might be willing to throw in (overpaid) defenseman Adrian Aucoin to take over some of Pronger’s responsibilities. Chicago doesn’t have a lot of depth up front or in goal, so a package of Aucoin, Barker/Seabrooke, and a draft pick might have to do it.
Probable Trade: Pronger and Matt Greene for Cam Barker, Adrian Aucoin, and a 2007 1st Round Draft Pick
20-1 Boston Bruins
They have cap room, and enough players to put together a compelling offer. Whether they’d do so, or meet Lowe’s asking price is the big question. They’re also a young, rebuilding team, so I wonder how genuine their interest would be. I think Patrice Bergeron is a keeper in beantown, but they could flip Marco Sturm or Brad Boyes, a defenseman such as Paul Mara, or youngsters Milan Jurcina and Mark Stuart. The problem for their end, if they’re dealing prospects, they don’t have many with all-star potential. I also don’t see them parting with Phil Kessel or Tuukka Rask, who for my money are the guys with the highest ceiling in their organization.
Probable Trade: Pronger for Brad Boyes, Milan Jurcina, and Mark Stuart
20-1 New York Rangers
They’d definitely be interested, and have the cap room to take on Pronger’s salary. Rangers GM, and former Oilers boss Glen Sather is also a natural trading partner. Their problem, like most teams on this list, is a lack of marketable talent to trade. They could offer up Marek Malik or Fedor Tyutin, but it’s debatable whether either of them will be a top defenseman. A prospect like Petr Prucha or Goaltender Alvaro Montoya could attract interest as well. With the success of Henrik Lundqvist with the big club, they might be more inclined to trade Montoya, who was a top ten pick in 2004.
Probable Trade: Pronger for Marek Malik and Alvaro “Inigo” Montoya
18-1 Buffalo Sabres
This might depend on how much cap room the Sabres have after resigning their many free agents. If they lose Jay McKee on the unrestricted market, I could see them having a keen interest in trading for Pronger. They certainly have the assets to do it, and would probably offer a package highlighted by goaltender Martin Biron. Throwing in winger Ales Kotalik, and a defenseman (who, I don’t know) could get the job done.
Probable Trade: Pronger and Raffi Torres for Martin Biron, Ales Kotalik, and Henrik Tallinder.
15-1 Toronto Maple Leafs
Before they resigned Bryan McCabe, I would have had them closer to 4-1 or 5-1. Now, I’m not sure how willing they’d be to take on his 6.5 million salary, in addition to the 5.5 they’ll be paying McCabe, and the 6-7 million that Sundin makes. However, with a number of their players still in their restricted years, it’s not inconceivable; swapping Pronger for a package highlighted by Tomas Kaberle would likely add only a couple of million in salary to their payroll. If Lowe is high on Kaberle, and Ferguson agrees to give up Alex Steen, something could happen here. A package of Kaberle, Steen, and Matt Stajan or Kyle Wellwood might be the best return that the Oilers could get.
Probable Trade: Pronger for Tomas Kaberle, Alexander Steen, and Kyle Wellwood
12-1 Florida Panthers
Mike Keenan wants to add a top defenseman, and his first choice is Ed Jovanovski. If he can’t sign Jovo, Pronger will be his next best option. Lowe asked for Jay Bouwmeester, Nathan Horton, and Florida 1st rounder (10th overall), and got rebuked. He’ll be lucky to get both J-Bo and Horton out of Florida. If he can, it will likely be because he throws in another player. Pronger and Todd Harvey (who strikes me as a Keenan-type player) for J-Bo, Horton and maybe a mid-round draft pick might be the best that Kevin Lowe can do here.
Probable Trade: Pronger and Todd Harvey for Jay Bouwmeester, Nathan Horton, and a 2008 4th Round Draft Pick
10-1 Columbus Blue Jackets
GM Doug MacLean is trying to win, and made a splash last year adding defensemen Adam Foote and Bryan Berard in free agency, then trading for center Sergei Fedorov early in the regular season. It didn’t work, as the Jackets missed the playoffs yet again, but they have some good pieces in place here. Rick Nash is untouchable, but the Oilers may be able to get young sniper Nikolai Zherdev, or defenseman Rostislav Klesa, or goalie Marc Denis. They probably won’t be able to get two of them, but could add a prospect like Gilbert Brule or Danny Fritsche as well. If Prongs ends up here, my guess is that it’s for Zherdev, Fritsche, and a defenseman like Duvie Westcott.
Probable Trade: Pronger for Nikolai Zherdev, Danny Fritsche, and Duvie Westcott
7-1 Edmonton Oilers
They could refuse to trade him, and make him sit out and not get paid. In an absence of compelling offers, which could very well end up being the case, I could easily see this happening.
If he doesn’t get moved, I can’t see any scenario where could suit up for the team. The fans, and possibly his teammates, would revolt. Unless he comes out, issues a full apology, and begs for another chance, this town isn’t going to forgive and forget.
Probable Trade: None, obviously.
6-1 Phoenix Coyotes
They’re after an elite defenseman, and have the cap room and assets to make it happen via free agency or a trade. If they can’t land Zdeno Chara, they could turn their focus to Pronger. I think Lowe would prefer to send his franchise player to the Eastern Conference, but Phoenix might be acceptable, as they don’t play in the same division. The presence of Gretzky and Mike Barnett in the Coyotes’ front office should help negotiations with Kevin Lowe move along. I think Shane Doan is untouchable, but after a disappointing season, Ladislav Nagy could be had. Nagy, a defenseman, and one of the Coyotes’ many prospects might end up doing the trick.
Probable Trade: Pronger for Ladislav Nagy, Keith Ballard, and a player to be named later.
4-1 Philadelphia Flyers
If history has taught us anything, it’s taught us that Bobby Clarke has to be considered a player every time a big name comes on the market. He’s failed to put together a team that can get over the hump, and getting a franchise defenseman like Pronger might be the trick that does it. The Flyers have a lot of free agents, and therefore a lot of cap flexibility right now. Pronger could fetch 1-2 prospects, and an established defenseman to help right away. The most likely return is defenseman Joni Pitkanen and Mike Rathje, along with center Jeff Carter. In this case, I think the Oilers would send someone back east along with Pronger – maybe mobile defenseman/finals goat Marc-Andre Bergeron.
Probable Trade: Pronger and Marc-Andre Bergeron for Joni Pitkanen, Mike Rathje, and Jeff Carter
3-1 Carolina Hurricanes
The thought of Pronger as a ‘Cane probably sickens most Oiler fans right now, but this could be a good landing spot. Carolina is in a position where they might lose one or two of their key defenseman (Wesley might retire, Ward may sign elsewhere). They also have the cap room, and enough young players to put together an enticing package.
It might be less unlikely than we think that Jim Rutherford is willing to move last year’s top pick, University of Michigan defenseman Jack Johnson. Word has it that Rutherford was unimpressed that Johnson declined to sign a contract and join the team (as an observer) for their playoff run. Furthermore, while Johnson’s a great prospect, the Canes are ready to keep winning now. They need to make the most of the years that they have Eric Staal and Cam Ward – it’s not inconceivable that someone will make Ward a Nikolai Khabibulin offer in 5-6 years time. That’s about the period of time that Pronger might have left as a top defender, so this works out well. If I were Jimmy Rutherford, I would flip Jack Johnson, Matt Cullen, and another prospect for Pronger; if I were Kevin Lowe, I would take that trade.
Probable Trade: Pronger for Jack Johnson, Matt Cullen, and Chad LaRose.
(For the record, I’d take the Carolina trade if it was offered. The Florida and Philadelphia ones would work well too.)