Pronger On The Pond
Everyone knows about the trade that sent Chris Pronger to Anaheim for Joffrey Lupul, Ladislav Smid, and three draft picks. Some brief thoughts on the move:
This isn't a great trade for Edmonton, nor is it an especially bad one, in my opinion. Lupul is a top 6 forward, and should be a 30-40 goal scorer for the next number of years. He fills a need for the Oilers since they are poised to lose two forwards (Samsonov and Dvorak) from their top two lines. Smid should be a solid defender, though he doesn't have a lot of offensive flair. Out of the three picks, which should be in the range of #20-#60, the Oil should be able to add another NHL-quality player or two if they draft well. In my last post about this subject, most of the scenarios had the Oilers netting three assets. They did slightly better in that respect, though they've significantly weakened their blue line at the top level. The success of the trade will depend on what they can do with their newfound cap room, and what they can parlay those draft picks into (albeit by using them themselves or to acquire other players).
With that being said, this definitely takes the Oilers out of Stanley Cup contention for the coming year. The upshot of it is that they're putting together a nucleus that should be deadly by the end of this decade. The only area they're weak on throughout the organization is defense, and they can add a player or two via trade or free agency to remedy that.
While Pronger definitely boosted his stock with his performance this year, if you look at what the Oilers gave up for him compared to what they gave up last year, they definitely come out ahead. Would any of us not do an Eric Brewer, Jeff Woywitka and Doug Lynch for Joffrey Lupul, Ladislav Smid, and three draft picks deal?
Kevin Lowe was definitely dealing from a position of weakness, due to the public trade demand, and the fact that most of his potential trading partners filled their defensive needs on Saturday and Sunday. However, let's remember that Larry Pleau was also trading from a position of weakness last year when he shipped Pronger to St. Louis last year. He had no choice but to move his big defenseman since he was stuck with the albatrosses that were the contracts of Doug Weight and Keith Tkachuk. Just thought I'd point that out.
As for Anaheim, getting Pronger is definitely a coup. The ability to put Niedermayer and Pronger on the ice for half the game makes them a formidable opponent. Losing Lupul hurts, especially since their offense was tenuous at best as it is. They're going to be even more reliant on Teemu Selanne being able to turn back the clock, and Andy McDonald having another sensational year if they wish to continue their success. Though given Brian Burke's track record, I wouldn't be surprised if he has a trade in the works to flip J-S Giguere for a winger.
If there's a silver lining for Oilers fans (or Ducks haters, I guess), it's that this move will certainly make the Ducks the favorites in the West when all of the pre-season publications come out. In fact, I'm almost 100% certain that Sports Illustrated will pick them to win the Cup, and feature Pronger and Niedermayer on the cover of their preview issue (with a title like 'The Twin Towers'.) Given that magazine's track record, that should ensure that Disneyland won't be hosting a Stanley Cup parade any time soon.
On a tangent, 29 general managers dropped the ball by letting Mike Grier sign with San Jose. Given some of the other contracts that have been handed out, locking him up for 3 years at $1.75 mil a year is absolute theft by the Sharks. He's worth at least half a mil to a mil per year more than that.