Monday, June 29, 2009

Pronger For Lupul 2: Electric Boogaloo

Anaheim calling to the hockey world...

They say, in sports, it's impossible to quantify a player's worth. Nothing could be further from the truth for Chris Pronger. He's worth, exactly, Joffrey Lupul, a 1st Round defenseman, and assorted picks (relative to his Stanley Cup success at the time). The price has been proposed and paid twice. Most recently on Friday, when Anaheim moved their 6'6" defenseman to Philadelphia, the team currently paying Joffrey Lupul. For Pronger and Ryan Dingle, the Ducks acquired Lupul, Luca Sbisa, the Flyers' 2009 and 2010 1st Round Pick and a conditional 3rd Round pick for 2010/11. Puck Daddy's Greg Wyshynski reports the 3rd Rounder is conditional on whether or not the Flyers win the Stanley Cup.

Chris Pronger D
Salary: 6.25M (UFA 2010)
Instrumental in the Ducks' playoff run this season, Pronger played the most responsible shutdown defense of his career, tying a career low 12 PIM in Anaheim's series against the Sharks and Red Wings.

Ryan Dingle C
Salary: 850K (RFA 2009)
Dingle was signed as a free agent after a standout scoring career with the Denver Pioneers. He split time with the ECHL and AHL last season, but turned in 18 points in 70 games with the CHOPS this year.

Joffrey Lupul RW
Salary: 4.25M (UFA 2013)
Lupul notched 50 points (25 G) for the Flyers this season, his highest output since leaving Anaheim. He also scored a goal and an assist in the Flyers' series against the Penguins.

Luca Sbisa D (RFA 2011)
Salary: 875K
Sbisa was Philadelphia's 1st Round pick (19th overall) in last year's Entry Draft. He played 40 games for the Flyers this year, including one playoff game, accruing 38 PIM and 7 assists.

The Pronger trade was the other shoe in this year's edition of Scott Niedermayer's "To Play or Not To Play" saga, and it was widely believed that Prongs would leave Anaheim in a salary dump. However, with the addition of roughly 5M in cap hits, this deal is far from a dump. And with the Ducks making (arguably) minimal use of Philadelphia's pick, this looks no better than a deal that could have happened at the trade deadline i.e. Pronger for Kessel, who, in all likelihood, would not have re-signed for less than Lupul's salary.

Daniel, what SHOULD a Pronger trade have done for the Ducks, and what does this trade actually do?

First, let me say that I am only writing this now because it is exactly now that I stopped sobbing long enough to write. This trade is horrible, and it's horrible for two reasons: Joffrey Lupul's contract and Joffrey Lupul's style of play. Before I get into that, let me answer the first question. The Pronger trade should have provided us with three things:

1) Draft Picks: Success!!
2) A top 6 forward for Selanne: Kind of, sort of, not really
3) Payroll flexibility: Epic Fail

I know a lot of Anaheim fans will remember the Lupul that scored 28 goals for us and 4 in one playoff game, and will love to have him back. The problem is that Lupul is a finisher, and Selanne is a finisher, and there's only one puck. Selanne can't spend all of his energy chasing the puck just so Lupul can reload. We need someone who can join Selanne on the rush and work the complex passing that makes his skills deadly to opponents. I don't think Lupul will be able to keep up with Selanne, and I think Lupul's inability to share the puck is only going to frustrate Teemu and ruin any potential chemistry. More importantly, if we move Ryan to the second-line instead of Lupul, it won't bring back the Selanne of 2006-2007 that we desperately neeed.

Next, Lupul's contract is 4.25 million/year for the next 4 years. That means that after we pay Niedermayer his money (about 6 million for 2-4 years depending on what he wants) and pay Wisniewski (another 2-3 million over 3-5 years), our cap hit next year is about 46 million, give or take a million, depending on who gets how much money. But that's without signing a Marchant or a Rob Niedermayer, or another Top 4 defenseman, like Beauchemin. Essentially, our cap number for the 2010-2011 season, a season where the cap is expected to drop again, will be in the neighborhood of 43 million, without counting any offer to Marchant or Rob, or the Top 4 defenseman we still need. Bobby Ryan and Jonas Hiller will be Free agents in 2010. If Bob Murray can get those two to stay for 7 million dollars, forget GM of the year, he deserves the Congressional Medal of Honor and a harem of Dutch girls from the red light district. For those of you playing the at-home-game, now is the time to curse Joffrey Lupul, or pray for his future departure, because he's taking up Bobby Ryan's and/or Jonas Hiler's money.

My salary cap forecast is a little different from yours, as I don't see Scott Niedermayer ever signing another multi-year deal, but I wholeheartedly agree that Bobby Ryan is going to want a hefty raise at the end of next year. When you look at the 2005 Draft Class: Sidney Crosby just raised the Stanley Cup, Jack Johnson's moving on to a new contract this season and Ryan just finished 2nd in Calder voting in a year where it took a freak injury to Teemu Selanne to get him out of the AHL. I wouldn't be surprised if he offer-sheeted us and walked.

And I refuse to believe that Bob Murray isn't lying awake at night, pondering that possibility. The nearest I can figure, he's operating under the assumption that Niedermayer and Selanne will retire after this season, which leaves plenty of money to waste on shoring up the holes they will leave. If that's the case, I agree with his shopping list, but completely disagree with his purchase.

Going to Philadelphia for a forward is like going to the Airport for lunch, and Joffrey Lupul is a $10 Big Mac, which we'll be eating for the next 4 years. I'm not saying he's devoid of nutritional value, but in every other hockey market (except maybe Manhattan) he's a $4 burger. Seriously, Murray. Where's the beef?

Again, I agree with the decision to use Chris Pronger to acquire a Top Six forward to either replace Selanne or act as an insurance policy against a Bobby Ryan offer sheet. That is just as valid as dumping salary and acquiring draft picks. But you have to do it affordably. Ideally, Murray should have acquired an expensive long-term contract that would make it unnecessary for him to pursue Beauchemin this offseason or shop the free agent market for a second line center. Instead, he bought a contract that makes both tasks, at once, imperative and impossible.


Joe said...

Yeah, I didn't like the deal either, but I seem to be in the minority over at BoC. I posted my own breakdown of it over at Sacrifice the Body.

To hear the Ducks tell it, the biggest issue here was money, namely that they didn't want to commit 12M to two of the best defensemen in the league, as they have the last few years. I would have an easier time buying this if Joffrey Lupul hadn't been a part of the return for Pronger. Lupul is now the third highest paid forward on the Ducks, with a 4.25M/yr cap hit, and he's never scored more than 56 points in an NHL season. If you take his 2007-08 Flyers season (56 GP, 20-26-46) and extrapolate that out over a full 82 game season, you at least get 67 points, which is better, but still not great, especially when he has yet to be able to replicate such a result. The Ducks could've spent an extra ~2M and instead locked up one of the best defensemen in the league, and told Niedermayer to take less money (like maybe Lupul's 4.25M) or let him walk, and I think they'd have been ahead than where they are now.

Also, something I pointed out in the comments at BoC, Earl contended that what the Ducks really need is secondary scoring. I think there were better ways to get that, and I think the best way would've been an RFA pickup. Great way to give up a draft pick or two for a known young quantity who can contribute immediately. It astounds me that RFA isn't used more often. RFA process would've netted someone better than Lupul for the same price or cheaper.

Also, my captcha word here is "petises". I had to do a double take.

Anaheim Calling said...

Petises? I don't follow.

As I understood it, Bob Murray wasn't shopping Pronger, just fielding offers. He was worried he couldn't re-sign him next year with both Hiller and Ryan's contract renewals coming up, and he wanted to make sure he could get something for him. Murph takes his assets seriously. Hopefully, he'll consider using the extra money on an RFA.

Joe said...

Petises sure looked a lot like penises when it was written in cursive for the captcha.

Anaheim Calling said...

Oh. Haha. I thought that might be it. Just wanted to be sure I wasn't missing some kind of slang.