Monday, July 03, 2006

Pronger ducks out to Anaheim

Chris Pronger’s stay in Edmonton has come to a quick but messy ending, as the now former Oiler joins Brian Burke’s collection of big time players at the Pond. The lynchpin of the Oiler defence and one of the keys to their Stanley Cup drive, had demanded a trade from the Oil city just before the amateur draft one week ago and Kevin Lowe began the wheeling and dealing process that ended today.

Never dealing from strength when a player demands a trade, Lowe still managed to find a decent combination of players and picks that could help take the sting out of love unrequited in the Alberta Capital.

Leaving the Ducks are Edmonton native Joffrey Lupul (his grandparents can finally cheer loudly when he scores!), also heading to the Oilers are defenceman Ladislav Smid, the ninth overall selection in the 2004 draft, plus Anaheim's first-round draft choice in 2007, a conditional first-round pick and a second-round draft choice in 2008.

It’s not long on the present, losing a fixture like Pronger is certainly going to create a hole, but in the long run the Oilers could find this to be a most beneficial trade for their future success.

Lupul is bona fide sniper and should fit in nicely with the Oilers, adding some increased offence to the squad that went to the Stanley Cup final. Smid is a rather unknown quantity just yet, he’s still developing as far as NHL standards go and he will develop under the watchful eye of Craig MacTavish and Charlie Huddy.

Draft picks are always a crap shoot since they are dependant on where your trading partner ends up on the draft board, adding Pronger to the Ducks improves Anaheim quite a bit, so that could knock down a potential placing.

Pronger joins a Duck blue line that already holds down one huge stud in Scott Niedermayer, giving the Ducks a pretty strong tandem holding a solid blue line in Anaheim. Another bold stroke from one of the league’s best GM’s, Brian Burke was rather quiet at the draft table a week ago, but as usual his thunder seems to be loudest when all is said and done!

In the end, Pronger was going to leave anwyays, it was never clearly spelled out why he wanted to leave Edmonton, but the intimations were that it was a non negotiable subject and that Lowe had best get on with the job of moving him. The process which Lowe started last week and consummated today.

For Pronger staying in the West is going to provide for a very interesting bit of road travel, the Ducks will be frequent visitors to Rexall Place in 2006-07, suddenly all the weight is off of Doug Weight’s shoulders, the new villain in town is a Pronger, be prepared for the feedback, and for the folks described as the best sports fans in Canada, the homecoming such as it will be is probably not going to be pretty!

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