Tavares Goes No. 1, Pronger Traded to Flyers

Jabber HeadSenior Analyst IJune 27, 2009

With the first pick of the 2009 entry draft the New York Islanders selected John Tavares from the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League.

It was no real surprise, but it was suspensful, as Islanders GM Garth Snow was very secretive about who he was planning on choosing with the first pick, although he had previously stated that he knew who he was taking from the moment he knew he had the first pick.

Tavares will be the marquee star on the Island next year. With a few complementary players via free agency, the Islanders could have a decent shot at a playoff seed, even though they play in arguably the toughest division in hockey.

The biggest story of the day however may not have been that Tavares went No. 1. It just may have been the acquisition of Chris Pronger by the Philadelphia Flyers. Pronger is a physical, experienced defensemen with a Stanley Cup Championship on his resume. He has been voted by the players as the dirtiest player in the NHL (so he should fit in perfect with the Flyers).

However, a player of Prongers caliber does not come cheap.

The Flyers had to give up Joffery Lupul, Lucas Sbisa, two first round picks and a conditional third round pick. That's a lot to give up for a guy that only has one more year left on his contract, although I’m sure the Flyers front office will work hard to get him extended.

When I first saw this, I immediately thought to myself “how?”

I didn’t think the Flyers had any cap space available, sure Lupul makes pretty good money but Prongers contract is a big one. Lupul’s contract has a cap hit of $4.25 million and Sbisa only has 0.875 cap hit which equals out to a total of $5.125 million cap hit going to the Ducks and Prongers cap hit is $6.25 (he was the highest paid player on the Ducks). So the Flyers only added $1.125 million onto their cap, and before the weekend they had about $5 million available.

This signing likely means the end of the road in Philadelphia for Mike Knuble.

The Flyers still need to sign another goalie, and Knuble will field some solid offers in free agency (the Penguins are reportedly interested). I like the trade a lot for the Ducks and a little bit less for the Flyers.

The Flyers really gave up a lot for a one year contract, and if they can re-sign him and he plays at a high level for a few years then it may come back to be a great trade, but he is 34-years-old, and the Flyers did mortgage the future for what seems to be a win now mentality.

I’m just afraid it will cripple the Flyers cap situation.

More big news out of Day Two of the draft is that the Panthers have traded Jay Boumeester to the Calgary Flames for a third round pick and Jordan Leopold. Both Boumeester and Leopold are going to be free agents on July 1 unless they reach an agreement with their new teams before the free agent period begins.

After the draft, the Atlantic Division got a lot more interesting.

Pronger will look to be able to shut down Crosby, Malkin, Parise, Tavares and whoever from the Rangers and Tavares will look to be the goal scoring machine that the Islanders desperately need.

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