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Flyers acquire Prospal for Picard

by Phil Coffey

The Philadelphia Flyers have acquired a veteran scoring presence in center Vaclav Prospal from the Lightning.
Watch Vaclav Prospal highlights
Looking to get back on the winning track after stumbling through a debilitating 10-straight losses, the Philadelphia Flyers notched a shootout win over the Buffalo Sabres Monday night and then added a veteran scoring presence in Vaclav Prospal in a trade with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

In exchange, the Flyers sent minor-league defenseman Alexandre Picard and a conditional draft pick to the Lightning.

“Alexandre Picard is a young prospect with good size and excellent hockey sense who has played in the NHL,” Lightning General Manager Jay Feaster said. "We believe he has a significant amount of upside in his future. In moving Vaclav Prospal, we wanted to add to our organizational depth, and by acquiring both a young defenseman and a future draft pick we were able to achieve that goal."

Prospal can become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, but the Flyers are more concerned with the here and now, especially after losing Mike Richards for several weeks with a torn hamstring. Prospal has a nose for the net and should not only help the team replace the dynamic Richards on a short-term basis, but also add a jolt to a team that needs some extra juice these days.

“With the loss of forwards due to recent injuries, we felt that we needed to add some help to that position,” Flyers GM Paul Holmgren said. “We believe that Vinny will bring experience with the ability to produce offense."

Prospal has enjoyed a strong season despite the Lightning’s struggles. In 62 games, Prospal has scored 29 goals and 28 assists.

"It is something that I kind of expected, not to go to Philadelphia, but being traded,” Prospal said. “My name has been mentioned all around the paper and there has been a lot of rumors. They had a decision to make and they basically dealt me away. I am glad that I am going to an organization that I already have been involved with. Philadelphia is a great place to play because they have awesome fans and I was drafted by Philadelphia, so I am basically coming back to where I started.”

With the trade, Tampa Bay ensured a return of assets for Prospal, who could have departed over the summer. In Picard, the Lightning receive a young defenseman who may well step into the lineup for the rest of the season. In addition, the Lightning receive a conditional draft pick, either a second or third-round selection depending on how far the Flyers go in the playoffs this season.

Prospal was originally selected by the Flyers in the third round of the 1993 Entry Draft with the 71st overall pick. In 59 games with the Flyers over two seasons, Prospal scored 10 goals and 23 assists.

Prospal was traded to the Ottawa Senators on Jan. 17, 1998 along with Pat Falloon and a second round draft pick for Alexandre Daigle.

Prospal spent a little over two and a half seasons in Ottawa, scoring 34 goals and 77 assists. He was traded to the Florida Panthers for a third-round pick in the 2002 draft on Jan. 21, 2001. With the Panthers, Prospal scored four goals and 12 assists in 34 games. He was acquired by the Lightning for Ryan Johnson and a 2003 sixth-round pick on July 10, 2001.

In 2001-02, Prospal scored 18 goals and 37 assists in 81 games and followed those numbers up with a strong 2002-03 season in which he scored 22 goals and 57 assists in 80 games.

Prospal signed with Anaheim as a free agent in the summer of 2003 and scored 19 goals and 35 assists in 82 games in 2003-04. Prospal spent only the one season in Anaheim before being swapped back to the Lightning on Aug. 16, 2004 for a second-round pick in the 2005 Entry Draft.

The move back agreed with him as Prospal scored 25 goals and 55 assists in 81 games, Last season Prospal dropped to 14 goals and 41 assists in 81 games.

Selected 85th overall in the 2003 Entry Draft, the 6-foot-2, 220-pound Picard has been playing with the AHL’s Philadelphia Phantoms, where he scored eight goals and 30 assists in 53 games. Last season he played 62 games with the Flyers, putting up three goals and 19 assists. He also appeared in four games with the Flyers this season, going scoreless.

Picard played four seasons in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and joined the Phantoms for the 2004-05 Calder Cup Playoffs.

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