Pronger dealt to the Ducks
Brian Burke strikes again?
It certainly looks that way at the moment, as reports have Chris Pronger being dealt to Anaheim for Joffrey Lupul, Ladislav Smid and three conditional draft picks. The reports of Pronger-to-Anaheim came in late last night, and like the Battle of Alberta fellows, I couldn't for the life of me figure out just what the Ducks had to deal other than high-end prospects.
It's a stunning deal, really, and for a number of reasons, the main being that Edmonton deals within their conference and doesn't get a high-end defenceman in return. Given that both Jaroslav Spacek and Dick Tarnstrom are unrestricted free agents, the Oilers blueline has been massacred this off-season — so much so that Smid, a top defensive prospect who played in Portland of the AHL last year, may be Edmonton's No. 4 defenceman at the moment:
Steve Staios - Jason Smith
M-A Bergeron - Ladislav Smid?
Matt Greene - Danny Syvret?
And that's not a blueline that's going to lead a club to Game 7 of the final.
Now, obviously GM Kevin Lowe isn't planning to go into the regular season with a defence core like that, but the blueline free-agent pool has been decimated the past two days, so much so that the best remaining options are Aaron Ward, Danny Markov, Brian Leetch and Spacek. Factor in that you'll likely have to overpay whoever you sign on defence, and it doesn't look promising.
You know, I like Joffrey Lupul, but only as a second-tier prospect, a guy who will eventually score 30 goals and 70 points. Lowe would have likely been better off asking for Ryan Getzlaf given the fact he's more likely to be a much more well-rounded top-flight contributor in his career.
As for the Ducks, the loss of Lupul does suck a little offence out of a team that needs all the goal-scoring it can get (although Pronger was essentially a point-a-game player in the postseason), but their defence core looks much, much better than it did (sorry Oilers fans):
Scott Niedermayer - Francois Beauchemin
Chris Pronger - Sean O'Donnell
Joe DiPenta - Vitali Vishnevski
Still, it's the draft picks part of the equation that's really befuddling. Edmonton's not a rebuilding team, and any picks you're going to get from a Ducks team with Pronger on it the next three years are coming from the playoff-team portion of the first round.
Not many of those players turn into superstars, and especially not when the Oilers are drafting them.
Not that it's much consolation, but Smid is considered one of the best defenceman not playing in the NHL at the moment. While some are lamenting his lack of offensive production, those numbers are all from playing in the Czech Extraleague as a 17- or 18-year-old blueliner.
Still, he's not an elite European defensive prospect, he doesn't play physical and he's not a phenomenal skater. Even if he is going to blossom into anything resembling a Top 2 NHLer, it's not going to happen in the next few years.
What more is there to say?
The Battle of Alberta is certainly getting good at their one-word headlines.