Oilers trade Pronger to Ducks for Lupul, others
It's hard not to applaud Chris Pronger for choosing family over team, but his trade to Anaheim is still very perplexing, Scott Burnside writes.
Pronger, the 2000 NHL MVP with St. Louis, led the Oilers to the Stanley Cup finals last month. They fell just short of a championship, losing Game 7 to the Carolina Hurricanes.
After Edmonton's surprising run was over, Pronger asked the team for a trade, citing personal reasons. His wife reportedly disliked living in Edmonton.
"At the end of the season I sat down with my family and discussed which way we wanted to go and in what direction," he said during a conference call. "And this was the direction we were going to go in, and whether fans agreed with it or not that's the direction we took."
Anaheim jumped at the opportunity, sending its first-round pick in the 2007 draft, a 2008 second-round pick and a conditional draft choice to the Oilers along with Lupul and Smid.
The conditional draft pick will be sent to Edmonton if the Ducks make the Stanley Cup finals next year. This season, Anaheim lost to the Oilers in five games in the Western Conference finals.
"We believe having Chris Pronger join Scott Niedermayer on our blue line gives us two of the top defensemen in the NHL today," Ducks general manager Brian Burke said. "Players of this caliber don't become available very often, especially when they are still in the prime of their career."
Pronger, 31, had 16 assists in the playoffs and scored five goals. During the 2005-06 regular season, he scored 12 goals and had 44 assists in 80 games.
"This was a deal we had to do despite the high price," Burke added. "He provides offense, he's excellent defensively, he's had a leadership role on every team he's played on. He's the whole package and he's got character."
Pronger signed a $31.25 million, five-year contract with Edmonton last summer.
Lupul, 25, is an Edmonton native. He scored 28 goals with 25 assists for the Ducks last season. He also became the first NHL player to cap a four-goal playoff game with an overtime score, doing it in a 4-3 win in Game 3 of the second round against the Colorado Avalanche.
Smid, 20, played three years in the Czech Republic before spending last season with the minor-league Portland Pirates.
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press
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