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Philadelphia won the Pronger trade now … but what about later?

May 26, 2010, 11:25 AM EDT

prongerflyers.jpgDuring last year’s draft, the Anaheim Ducks traded Chris Pronger to the Philadelphia Flyers for what seemed like a bounty of picks and players. In all, the Ducks received two first round draft picks, a conditional third round pick, a Flyers first-rounder in Luca Sbisa and streaky sniper Joffrey Lupul. When the trade went down, many people asked if the Flyers gave up too much. My reaction was “So much for Sidney Crosby and the Penguins having an easy run through the Eastern Conference …”

As usual, there’s more to this trade than the personnel involved. Pronger wanted a contract extension, but the Ducks a) wanted to get younger and b) perhaps chose Scott Niedermayer instead of Pronger. One of them had to go and the Flyers swiftly signed Pronger to a 35+ contract (7 years, $34.45 million) that could very well be destructive in the long term.

Let’s break down the deal, piece-by-piece.

Flyers received: Pronger

Pronger’s cap hit this year: $6.25 million
Pronger’s cap hit going forward: $4.92 million
2009-10 season stats: 10 goals, 45 assists for 55 points
2009-10 playoff stats: 4 goals, 10 assists for 14 points

I think Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland said it best in this piece in the Toronto Sun.

“He does things that other players can’t do, haven’t done, don’t know how to do. And he just does them easily,” said Ken Holland, general manager of the Detroit Red Wings, who admitted to being “pretty damn happy” when the Ducks traded Pronger to the Eastern Conference.

“It’s no accident what happens when he joins a team. This isn’t any kind of fluke. This is a special player doing special things very few people in the history of our sport can do.”

(Ryan Dingle was also thrown into the deal.)

After the jump, discussion of the Ducks’ side of the coin.


lupul.jpgDucks received:

1. Two first round draft picks

  • This year’s first rounder will be super-weak. Since the Flyers made it to the Stanley Cup finals, the Ducks best possible pick will be the second to last one. It’s funny that earlier this season, Anaheim was wondering if they’d get a lottery pick.
  • The other first rounder was in the 2009 draft, which the Ducks traded to Columbus.

2. Luca Sbisa

8 games played in the regular season, 0 points. 875k cap hit when he plays in the NHL.

When the trade happened, people acted as if Sbisa is The Next Big Thing. On one hand, it’s far too early to tell if it’s too late for Sbisa. Blueliners take a long, long time to develop in many cases.

But that’s the thing, too, with trading established stars for prospects. You trade a sure thing for a mystery. Sbisa might still be the biggest “piece” for the Ducks, so his output will go a long way in deciding if this trade was a success. (Again, though, this wasn’t just a strict personnel move, but rather a very money-driven decision.)

3. Joffrey Lupul

14 points in 26 games played. $4.25 million cap hit

To me, Lupul is where the deal goes a bit sour for the Ducks. At 26-years-old, I doubt that Lupul will ever do much better than his 53-point career high. Pronger scored 55 points this season, as a defenseman.

Is the $2 million in cap savings really worth it for Anaheim, especially since Pronger gives a team a chance to earn that back by, you know, increasing your team’s chances to make the playoffs?

(The Ducks also received a conditional third round pick)

Too early to say who won

Right now, it’s hard to say that the Flyers regret sending all those pieces away for Pronger. There’s no denying that, in the short term, Philadelphia won the trade. Yet Pronger’s 35+ contract, those draft picks, Luca Sbisa’s probable development … and even the remote possibility Lupul will become a better piece make the longterm outlook far from clear.

  1. Duane - May 26, 2010 at 12:21 PM

    This is stupid. They are in the Stanley Cup finals and would they be there without him.. no. So just getting there could validate the trade. If they win.. obviously it was worth it!

  2. Karl - May 26, 2010 at 4:04 PM

    I think we can toss out the money part because the Flyers have already played eight home games and are guaranteed at least two more. I don’t know what the net take for a home playoff game is, but I’m guessing $1.5 million is reasonable. So, there’s $15 million right there and since the BARELY made the playoffs, it’s a pretty good bet that without him they would not have. You’ve just covered off over 40% of the contract’s value. not only that, when teams sign a star player, there is always a boost in regular season ticket sales.

  3. Paul - May 26, 2010 at 6:34 PM

    I was thrilled when the Flyers took Pronger but couldn’t believe the immediate extention they signed him too! Boy was I wrong…I enjoy watching him just push players out of the way and 50+ points for a defenseman is huge….I think he can play well into his 40′s.

  4. Ben - May 26, 2010 at 9:16 PM

    Money has always been the name of the game. Them that has gets. The Flyers spent, the Flyers get.
    Those who can’t, win very rarely.

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