So early Friday night, I'm sitting in my house all alone, kicking back and watching the Phils while listening to music and eating a meat lovers pizza when my cousin calls and immediately says, "Well, the Flyers mortgaged their future with that trade."
Stupid me had absolutely no idea what he was talking about because I was focused on eating some food and getting ready to get drunk. So he tells me, the Flyers traded Luca Sbisa, Joffrey Lupul and two first-round picks for Chris Pronger. He didn't seem happy.
My immediate thought was, well, kind of conflicted but leaning more toward being happy. The consensus seems to be, at least from the people I've talked to, that the Flyers gave up way too much to get Pronger, who is 34 after all and will turn 35 early in the season. And clearly, Pronger is closer to the end of his career than the beginning.
That's certainly true, and I won't argue against the fact that the Flyers gave up a king's ransom to get Pronger. Lupul has proven he can be a pretty good player, even if he's inconsistent at times, and Luca Sbisa looks like he could become a very, very talented defenseman in this league. Plus, two first-round picks, and a conditional pick, are valuable assets. There's no arguing that Paul Holmgren gave up a lot to get Pronger.
But, when you look at it, you have to say that the addition of Pronger absolutely makes the Flyers better for the 2009-10 season. It gives them a much, much better opportunity to compete for the Stanley Cup next season. Let's face it, the Flyers' glaring weakness last season was their defense, and the Flyers just got one of the better defenseman in the NHL. And just as importantly, they got the big, bruising intimidator that they've lacked on the blue line for a long, long time. Finally, there's someone back there that opposing forwards know will knock them on their ass, someone who can clear the crease and make the opposition think twice about taking an extra swipe at the goaltender. Oh, and he can help a power play that stumbled down the stretch with his ridiculously hard slap shot.
Lupul was an expendable piece with the incredible depth the Flyers have at forward, and Sbisa, while promising, was much like the rest of the Philadelphia defensemen — small and fast, but not the big, bruising force they lacked.
There's no question this move is a risky one. The Flyers gave up young talent on a young team to get a known commodity that addresses the team's biggest need. Sbisa could turn out to be the next Kimmo Timonen. Those two first-round picks could turn out to be very, very good players. But that's the thing, they could turn out to be special. The Flyers know what they're getting with Pronger.
Certainly, there are some down sides. Pronger is known for his questionable hits and has been suspended numerous times, joining a team that already has a reputation for being a bit dirty. But the good outweighs the bad with Pronger, at least in my opinion. Without question, this is no guarantee the Flyers can make a push to get over the hump, especially with a giant question mark in the form of Ray Emery in goal, but the acquisition of Pronger is a strong message from Holmgren to his players that he expects them to win and to win now.
In my humble opinion, the Flyers still need to add a face-off man, preferably one of these guys, and a backup netminder is a requirement. But the addition of Pronger addressed Philadelphia's biggest need. The price was large, but sometimes to get over the hump, you have to give up a lot, you have to take a chance.
One thing's for sure, Pronger's play should win over Flyers fans fairly quickly, both for his skill and his physical, intimidating style. Frankly, I'm looking forward to seeing Pronger in the Orange and Black.