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What’s next for the Pronger-less Flyers?

Dec 15, 2011, 11:47 PM EST

Matt Read, Chris Pronger, Kimmo Timonen, Maxime Talbot AP

As you probably know, the Philadelphia Flyers confirmed fears that Chris Pronger would miss the rest of the season (and the playoffs, for that matter). The natural question is: what’s next for Philly? Let’s take a look at it from multiple angles.

Previous experience

It’s not like playing without Pronger is a foreign idea to the Flyers. After playing in every contest in 2008-09 and 09-10, Pronger missed 32 regular season games and eight playoff matches last season.

While few would argue that they are better without the bruising defenseman, the Flyers are 8-3-2 with him and 12-4-1 when Pronger is out of the lineup, including a 4-3 win against the Montreal Canadiens tonight.

Pressure for Kimmo Timonen

Before Pronger came along, Timonen was the Flyers’ biggest name on defense. Pronger’s absence won’t weigh on Timonen alone – the impact trickles down to other blueliners – but make no doubt that the offensively adept Finn will carry the greatest burden. Ultimately, Timonen will be the “leader” of the Flyers defense now.

Speaking of leadership …

Taking Pronger’s injury and the Mike Richards trade into account, the Flyers have lost two captains since June 23. If you’re a big believer in the importance of having a strong symbolic leader, then Philly could face a serious void.

Considering all the rookies and new faces, there aren’t a ton of obvious options. Will it be Daniel Briere, Timonen or maybe even a first-year veteran like Jaromir Jagr who speaks in those crucial moments?

(Yes, some of those names are on the list for sheer fun.)

source: APBefore making moves, Flyers must gauge Giroux

At least one person made a Ryan Suter trade joke when the Pronger news surfaced. Considering how aggressive Philly is with splashy moves, a trade isn’t out of the question, although acquiring Suter probably is.

Still, before you start concocting hypothetical trades, it’s probably important to note that the Flyers are still waiting on Claude Giroux concussion updates. Why would Philly part ways with picks and prospects if they’re missing their best forward and defenseman?

The future for Pronger

Many believed that Pronger’s 35+ contract would be a big risk and it’s certainly looking that way right now. The Flyers can get some relief from his $4.92 million cap hit via a trip to the long-term injured reserve, but they cannot bury his deal in the minors and would be on the hook for that cap hit if he retires.

There’s been discussion of a scenario in which the Flyers trade Pronger to low-budget team so he can retire and help that team cheat it’s way to the cap floor, but it’s hard to imagine the NHL accepting that trade. Hopefully it doesn’t come to that anyway.

Lowered expectations?

OK, we’ve discussed the long-term implications, but let’s finish off with a little discussion of the short-term. The Flyers have been successful so far without Pronger, but what about the time when his value increases considerably: the playoffs?

Can they be a legitimate contender without him? Let us know in the comments and this poll.

  1. laurely515 - Dec 16, 2011 at 12:59 AM

    Obviously losing Pronger hurts, but it’s definitely not insurmountable. The Flyers top 4 D-men are all really solid; besides Timonen there’s Carle and Coburn, both of whom are good two-way defensemen, and Meszaros, who was probably their best defensemen over all of the 2010-11 season. Bourdon and Marshall have both played well, way better than expected, and Erik Gustafsson, probably the team’s best rookie on the blue line, is expected back in about a week. So even without Pronger, I still think there’s a lot of depth there.

  2. fatass5 - Dec 16, 2011 at 5:24 AM

    Look a dirty player got his ,steal the puck now asshole

    • johart52 - Dec 17, 2011 at 3:27 AM

      yeah you can hate a player for his play but there is no need to say crap over stuff he cannot control.

  3. clavette - Dec 16, 2011 at 6:36 AM

    I thought pronger was done after watching the last olympics. By far the worst non-goalie player on that team

    • icelovinbrotha215 - Dec 16, 2011 at 9:09 AM

      Speaks the uneducated hockey fan haha. Anywho, @lurely515 has it right. But I do think his presence may be missed in the playoffs. It’s a long season though, and it’s possible that Prongs could be reevaluated at the end of the regular season should the Flyers make the playoffs.

    • tjv027 - Dec 16, 2011 at 9:18 AM

      Bergeron?

  4. flyeredup2 - Dec 16, 2011 at 9:47 AM

    The Flyers D has been playing well without Prongs in the lineup, why is everyone so worried? I would worry more about Breezys pension for inconsistant play(soft goals) more than missing Prongs from the lineup. They are getting the leadership from all the veteran players, and the young guys are paying attention and playing hard.

    If the Flyers get knocked out in the first round this year it won’t be because Prongs was missing, it will most likely be because of a goaltending letdown (someone will be lost in the woods).

  5. drewsylvania - Dec 17, 2011 at 1:09 PM

    That anthem in Philly was the worst anthem I have ever, ever heard. Literally. Out of tune to the point where she’d be thrown out of a dog fight.

  6. drewsylvania - Dec 17, 2011 at 1:17 PM

    Gee, that didn’t work. Good start B’s.

  7. drewsylvania - Dec 17, 2011 at 1:22 PM

    Interference when the puck is right next to both of them? Yeah.

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