Oilers GM Lowe says Pronger hasn't asked for trade

Updated: June 23, 2006, 9:13 PM ET
By Scott Burnside | ESPN.com

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- In the aftermath of the Edmonton Oilers' bittersweet loss in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals comes something just plain bitter -- rumors that franchise defenseman Chris Pronger wants out of Edmonton.

Chris Pronger
Pronger

Rumors surfaced earlier in the season that Pronger was unhappy in Edmonton after being acquired by the Oilers in the offseason from St. Louis. A source familiar with the team told ESPN.com some time ago that Pronger's wife was unhappy with the prospects of a long stay in Edmonton. Pronger has four years remaining on his contract at $6.25 million annually.

After meetings Friday involving other GMs and the competition committee, Edmonton GM Kevin Lowe was vague about the situation, saying Pronger hadn't asked to be traded.

"He hasn't asked me. I'll just leave it at that," Lowe said obliquely. "I think they're more rumblings than anything. I'm pretty focused on the draft right now. I don't want to get too much into player personnel stuff."

Still, when asked if the reports that Pronger wanted out were true, Lowe balked. "I don't want to comment on it," he said.

With the annual entry draft set for Saturday afternoon, there is now much speculation that Lowe might try and move the big defenseman sooner than later, if indeed the reports are true.

The problem for Lowe is that it would be almost impossible to get full value for Pronger, the team's most important player during their run to the Cup finals and a player many believed should have been named playoff MVP.

At $6.25 million, he's a relative bargain, especially with the salary cap set to go up. And it's hard to imagine any package would offset the gaping hole his absence would leave along the Edmonton blue line.

Some have suggested a Roberto Luongo for Pronger trade, but it would be a surprise if the Panthers goalie agreed to sign a long-term deal with the Oilers, which would be a prerequisite for such a deal.

"We just got over a seven-game series in the Stanley Cup finals and there seems to be a lot of discussion about this and I'm not sure where it's coming from," Lowe said. "Let's put it this way, why would we want to trade Chris Pronger? So I'll just leave it at that.

"One thing I've learned in my five or six years as a manager is that stuff tends to come out of right field for whatever reason. It can be agendas, hidden agendas, certain motivations, so nothing surprises me."

Scott Burnside is an NHL writer for ESPN.com.