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Ducks send star defenseman Pronger to Philadelphia

Friday, 06.26.2009 / 11:30 PM / 2009 NHL Entry Draft

By Shawn P. Roarke - NHL.com Senior Managing Editor

MONTREAL -- The Anaheim Ducks kicked off the 2009 NHL Entry Draft in memorable fashion, dealing veteran defenseman Chris Pronger to the Philadelphia Flyers before the New York Islanders selected John Tavares with the first pick.

The Flyers shipped defenseman Luca Sbisa, forward Joffrey Lupul and two first-round picks: this season's No. 21 and next season's first-round pick. Anaheim will also receive a conditional third-round pick in one of the next two seasons.

Philadelphia also received 25-year-old minor league forward Ryan Dingle.

Pronger, going into the final year of a deal that will pay him $6.25 million next season, wasn't exactly caught off guard.

"I'm not that surprised," Pronger said. "You hear it once and you can brush it off, when you hear it twice, you can still brush it off, but you hear it over and over again, I think you have to think it is going to be a reality."

The 6-foot-6, 221-pound Pronger brings a physical element to the Flyers' lineup, an area seen as a shortcoming when the team lost to eventual Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh in the first round of the playoffs.

"I made it sort of clear I would like to get a hammer, a guy who makes life miserable for the other team," Philadelphia GM Paul Holmgren said. "This is one of those guys. I think we’ve made some strides in terms of revamping our defense over the last few years. You put Chris in our mix, and it makes our defense a good group."

Not only is Philadelphia's defense better, but Holmgren believes the team is better than the one that finished an inconsistent 2008-09 season with the disappointing first-round playoff ouster.

"I think in terms of where we’re at as a team right now, I think we’re better today than maybe we were yesterday," Holmgren said. "That’s no disrespect to Joffrey Lupul -- I think the world of Joffrey as a person and as a player. And no disrespect to Luca Sbisa, I think he’s a tremendous young player who’s on the rise. But the Flyers are a better team today."

And that belief makes Pronger excited, as well.

"It's obviously a city that is very passionate about the sport of hockey," Pronger said. "Their style of play certainly fits my game and I think they have a lot of young talent up front.

"I want to help this team win. That's why we all play this game -- to win the Stanley Cup." 

Pronger won the Cup with Anaheim in 2007, playing a huge part in the Ducks' run, including in the Final against Ottawa. He also helped Edmonton reach the Final the previous season.

Pronger, 34, was one of several players being actively shopped here this week. He became even more expendable when veteran defenseman Scott Niedermayer reportedly told the Ducks he would return for another season, instead of retiring.

This past season Pronger played in all 82 games, scoring 11 goals and 48 points. He also had 88 penalty minutes and will give the Flyers a rugged presence on the blue line, something they were lacking after losing Derian Hatcher to an injury-induced retirement.

Pronger was taken by the Hartford Whalers with the second pick in the 1993 Entry Draft, after Alexander Daigle. Two years later, he was traded to the St. Louis Blues, where he developed into an elite-level defenseman. Pronger also played for the Oilers before being traded to the Ducks three years ago.

Lupul, 25, played for Anaheim before he was traded to Edmonton three years ago as part of the package that landed Pronger in Anaheim. In his five-year career, Lupul has three 20-goal seasons, including 25 last year. He will help provide the second-line offense that the Ducks desire. He is signed for the next four seasons.

"I made it sort of clear I would like to get a hammer, a guy who makes life miserable for the other team.  This is one of those guys. I think we’ve made some strides in terms of revamping our defense over the last few years. You put Chris in our mix, and it makes our defense a good group." -- Flyers GM Paul Holmgren on Chris Pronger
Sbisa was taken 19th overall by Philadelphia in the 2008 draft. The defenseman played 39 games with the Flyers last season.

"We felt this was a deal we had to make," Executive Vice President/General Manager Bob Murray said. "We've addressed a present need with the addition of a top-six forward while adding some youth for the future as well."

There were a few outside observers that also like the deal as far as Anaheim was concerned.

"Anaheim got back what they paid for him … and more," Kings GM Dean Lombardi told NHL.com. "They got everything back that they gave up for him and a Stanley Cup. That's an impressive deal."