Why Wings Fans Should Want Pronger Healthy

Adam Foote might be the only NHL defenseman more despised by Wings faithful than Chris Pronger over the past 15 seasons. That's a big might. Pronger is strong, mean and skilled; he's a player you hate for your squad to play against but would love to have him on your team. Whether it was with St. Louis, Edmonton or Anaheim, Pronger gave the Wings trouble in the postseason with crunching hits and booming point shots. His battles with Tomas Holmstrom were epic and memorable.

Unfortunately the concussion epidemic sweeping the league also struck Pronger who is shut down for the remainder of the season with post-concussion syndrome. It's a detriment to the league when any player especially highly-skilled ones such as Pronger and Crosby miss substantial time due to injuries but the roster consequences of Pronger's injury are dangerous to the future plans of Red Wing brass.

It's a poorly kept secret that Ken Holland and the Detroit braintrust are Ryan Suter fans. Suter plays in Shea Weber's shadow in Nashville but is also an elite, young blueliner. He may not have Weber's cannon shot but he is offensively gifted, physical and a solid size (6-1, 198 lbs). Suter will be an unrestricted free agent this summer and will be a popular man come July 1. If Nick Lidstrom retires, one of the calls will be from Ken Holland and Jim Nill trying to draw the 26 year old to the Motor City. The Wings will have over 7 million alone just from Lidstrom's departure. If Brad Stuart signs on the West Coast, as anticipated, then there is even more money for an offer, and a more urgent need for a top-2 defenseman. This is where Pronger's injury gums up the works.

If Pronger's injury is so bad he must retire his contract will not count against Philadelphia's cap. This leaves another top contender with lots of money to throw at Suter. News broke today that Philadelphia has been in talks with Toronto to trade James Van Riemsdyk for Luke Schenn. Schenn is a younger, bigger defenseman coming from a high draft position and Philly's actions demonstrate a hunger for a blue line stud. If Pronger is able to return either late this season or next then his contract will handcuff the Flyers and make it harder to acquire a top defenseman. 

Of course, we shouldn't wish ill on any player and always want a speedy recovery. This time around, I think Wings fans should pray to the hockey gods for a dreaded rival's recovery so there's one less entry into the Suter Sweepstakes next summer. 


Kyle Andrew Busch's picture

Great article AK, the Flyers might do that if Pronger is out for good. Suter would look good in red and white. Hopefully Pronger gets back up and at it so Philly isn't in the sweepstakes

Tags27's picture

Since Pronger's deal is a 35+ contract his $$ definitely counts against the cap. The only way around it is to LTIR him, but in the summer his $$ goes back on the cap. With Suter being UFA this summer I don't see the Flyers going after him unless he agrees to an extension.....all that being said I think they go after Schenn in TO & reevaluate this summer with regards to Pronger.

Also, with Matt Carle going UFA this summer I could see Holmgren letting Carle go & signing Suter.

A.K. Bennett's picture

I wasn't aware the LTIR stipulation changed between season and summer.

Kyle Andrew Busch's picture

So the Flyers could be in on Suter either way. Detroit probaly has more money to throw at him though

Eric Huffman's picture

Nice article, AK. I was wondering where you were going with it once I read the title. I agree with you though. There needs to be that balance among teams, even if there is a bitter rivalry, so that everyone can benefit. Philly clearly benefits if Pronger recovers in time, and the Wings definitely will need to pick up someone who can fill Lidstrom's shoes when he decides to leave.