Broad Street Blueliner
Pronger a perfect fit for Flyers defense
Friday, 06.26.2009 / 10:24 PM ET / News
By Kevin Kurz - philadelphiaflyers.com
(Montreal, Quebec) - The Philadelphia Flyers made arguably the biggest headline at the NHL Entry Draft's first round on Friday night, landing defenseman Chris Pronger in a trade with the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for Joffrey Lupul, Luca Sbisa and a pair of first round draft picks.
To say that the 6-6, 220-pound Pronger fits into the Flyers' mold is an understatement. A heavy hitter and intimidating presence, Pronger is one of the most feared players manning the blue line in the NHL today.
|MORE ON PRONGER
Pronger highlight video
Pronger conference call
Holmgren talks about the trade
Official club press release
Media availability transcripts
Flyers ticket info
Paul Holmgren explained his thinking behind the blockbuster deal, shortly after it was announced by commissioner Gary Bettman at the draft.
"I made it sort of clear [and the end of the season] I would like to get a hammer, a guy who makes life miserable for the other team. This is one of those guys," said the general manager. "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."
Pronger, who admitted he was not shocked at the trade, also thinks he will fit in perfectly with his new team.
"The style of the play that the Flyers have been known to play certainly fits my game," he said via conference call. "They’ve got some great young talent and I hope to help not only develop the team into being one of the top teams in the league, but winning a Stanley Cup. I think that's why we all play the game, is to win, and certainly the Stanley Cup is the pinnacle for our sport."
|Chris Pronger skated in all 82 games for the Ducks last season, and was second in the NHL in average ice time. (AP Photo)
Pronger's success as a player and teammate is evident. He won the Stanley Cup with Anaheim in 2007, and took the Edmonton Oilers to the Stanley Cup Final in his only year there in 2005-06. As far as individual achievements, he is a fomer Norris Trophy winner as the league's best defenseman (2000) and Hart Trophy winner as the NHL's MVP, also in 2000. He has played in five NHL All-Star games, most recently in 2008.
At 34 years of age, Pronger shows no signs of slowing down. He recorded 48 points (11G,37A) and 88 penalty minutes in playing all 82 regular season games for the Ducks in 2008-09. He led the team in average time-on-ice (26:56 – second in the NHL) and finished second on Anaheim’s defense in goals (11), assists (37) and points (48). He also posted 10 points (2G,8A) in 13 playoff games.
While Philadelphia had to give up a reliable scorer in Lupul and promising young defenseman in Sbisa, as well as a pair of first rounders, the move instantly upgrades a roster that took the Stanley Cup champion Penguins to six games in the first round and even outplayed Pittsburgh for the majority of the series.
Holmgren's statement is obvious - he wants to win right now.
"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," he 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."
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Philadelphia also acquired young forward and prospect Ryan Dingle in the deal. Dingle, 25, posted 18 points (11G,7A) in 70 regular season games with the Iowa Chops of the American Hockey League in 2008-09. He has a total of 25 points (12G, 13A) in 93 regular season games in the AHL with the Portland Pirates (2006-07 to 2007-08) and Iowa (2008-09).
A native of Steamboat Springs, Colorado, Dingle was a member of the University of Denver Pioneers’ 2005 NCAA National Championship team with current Flyers defenseman Matt Carle.
"We had our choice of a couple different guys, and I like Ryan," said Holmgren. "He’s a good young player. Certainly he’s not a throw-in per se, because he’s a guy that we do have some time for."
"He’s a little spark plug," said Pronger of Dingle. "He’s a skilled guy, very fast, competitive guy. In training camp last year he had a great camp with us and opened a lot of eyes."