Well, the Finals aren't even over yet, and already the rumor mill is running. While the rumors about Lecavalier are still going, and new ones about Heatley are warming up, we here at Anaheim Calling like to focus on rumors about the Ducks. To that end, earlier this afternoon, Andy Strickland reported the rumor that the Ducks were moving Pronger to L.A. for the Kings' first round pick (5th overall) and one Jack Johnson. The report was later corroborated by Steve Ludzik of The Score.
I found this rumor to be a little surprising, not only because moving Pronger to the Kings would mean facing him 6 times a year, but because Johsnon isn't really a cheaper/better alternative to anything we can put on our blue line i.e. Beauchemin or Niedermayer. But, it's important to evaluate these prospects from all angles. So, Arthur, where is the truth behind this rumor and are there any potential benefits for the Ducks to explore this deal?
There are several reasons to doubt this rumor, whether it be the reliability of the sources or the number of flat-out denials that are emerging. However, I personally don't see this as an unbelievable rumor for the sake of its substance.
Daniel, you said in the prompt that you think this is a bad move for the Ducks, and I realize that better deals to make our team better now may be out there, but we should really address the majority that think this is a bad move for the Kings. Because IF Niedermayer is staying (which this rumored trade would suggest), the Ducks would be looking at deals to move Pronger's salary. And I think this does that.
First, let me say that if the Kings are moving Jack Johnson, then I think they are having serious trouble signing him. After last month's TSN report that Johnson's father spoke to a KHL coach, you had to figure the blueliner's camp was playing hardball, and moving him would confirm that. But if the Kings can't sign him, I'd think he's sold to the Ducks as a severe offer sheet risk. Currently at 2.15M, I think a Johnson offer sheet comes in at around 3.75M-4M. That would be a compensation of at least a 1st and 3rd Round pick.
So, the way I see this deal, we're moving Pronger for this year's 5th overall pick and next year's 1st, 3rd and maybe 2nd round picks of a team to be named later. If you're looking to dump salary, that's a GREAT deal. Especially when you consider that we'll still have access to some top flight talent picking at 5th: Brayden Schenn, Evander Kane and Jared Cowen for example. Kings fans are right to be upset, here. Setting aside the value comparison in talent, the addition of 4M in salary makes it harder for L.A. to acquire the marquee players they're rumored to be after. Though, on the bright side, Pronger may end up as nothing more than a bargaining chip in a trade acquisition for one of the aforementioned marquee players.
If the Ducks CAN sign Johnson to an affordable contract, then they would guarantee themselves a solid top pairing in two years of Whitney and Johnson, just as the team's defensive prospects are emerging to the NHL level. And if they can't, the extra money offers endless possibilities, even if the most attractive one is just to stay under budget.
I agree that getting that many picks for Pronger would be a good move in a salary dump. That would be a great way to free up some cash to sign Beauchemin, or to solidify our second line.
What I don't necessarily like is moving Pronger. He was so great down the stretch and this is a contract year for him, which means he'll be trying to prove he's still worth a good chunk of cap space. I know it's necessary to protect assets, but Pronger is a different type of player. It might be worth the risk to ride him to another deep playoff run and then let him walk. This would require shoring up the D through other means, but it might be worth it to not have to face an angry/motivated Pronger.
If we have to move Pronger, this isn't a bad deal. But, it is still my preference that we keep him, or get guaranteed second line scoring in the deal. I just think there are better deals out there, I hope.