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Really? We're in the Pronger sweepstakes?

By the time I finish typing this post, it will probably be obsolete, but seeing as today is a really empty (pre-4th) day at the office, why not give it a stab?

Per a few sources, the Ducks have remained (emerged?) in the Pronger hunt, simply by not blowing their wad on middling UFA defensemen, although I'd believe that we are less likely destinations than my kind kind sisters (SJ and LA). I really don't think Edmonton fans want us to be winners in this Pronger bid, not just because of the potential Niedermayer-Pronger pairing, but really in that we never began this process as particularly driven bidders in the first place.

Still, now that we are among the few left on the bidding floor, let's take a look at what we might provide. First off, any package for Pronger must involve an NHL-ready defenseman, I believe. Given that we have made the "brother commitment" to Scotty N., that really leaves us with the following choices:
Francois Beauchemin, 26 yrs old, 1 year remaining on a $500,000 contract
Positives: has shown a lot of poise for a first-year player, can hit/shoot/pass very well, is under a very favorable contract, has punched out Jarome Iginla
Negatives: has yet to play without Scott N. as a partner, and has only one year to base anything on

Vitaly Vishnevski, 26 yrs old, RFA
Positives: one of my personal favorites, a decent-skating hard-hitting defenseman who I think still will improve, contract should be somewhat reasonable
Negatives: cannot be considered a #1 pairing kind of guy, not yet under contract ($1 - $2 M range, likely)

Joe Dipenta, 27 yrs old, signed 1 year for $500,000
Positives: cheap and reliable, unlikely to see a huge raise between now and 2010
Negatives: we'll all wonder why Edmonton didn't take Beauchemin for that price

Sean O'Donnell, 34 yrs old, 1 year remaining (I believe) at $1.52 M
Positives: a 10-year veteran who has did prove valuable for Anaheim upon coming aboard
Negatives: you generally don't like O'Donnell until he's on your team, and even then, you're not sure you like him very much

Ladislav Smid, 20 yrs old, entry-level contract (don't know details)
Positives: the best blueline prospect we've got, initial reports look very promising
Negatives: you'd really have to expand your definition of 'NHL-ready'
Aside from that, Ducks have a fair amount in the forward deck to finish out a deal. It may be an RFA that we have yet to sign (A. McDonald, J. Lupul, C. Kunitz, S. Chistov), a prospect-kid (R. Getzlaf, C. Perry, D. Penner), or even a stalwart like T. Marchant. Even a guy like J.S. Giguere might be packaged, giving Edmonton some other bargaining chip to shop.

The thing both sides will need to remember are that: a) Anaheim is not particularly pressured to make any of these deals, so Edmonton shouldn't be thinking about the 'best combination' from the above. Like it or not, Edmonton looks to be a loser in the Pronger trade, and b) Chris Pronger is a frickin' stud under a very reasonable contract, and Anaheim fans shouldn't be so protective of the future that we can't make a deal. Tossing a prospect or two for immediate gains will not be the end of our world.

An opportunity like Pronger's availability (and our availability to take him) will not surface very often, and if the deal is manageable, I'd take him in a heartbeat. Winning Pronger means in most cases, we win the deal.

Which of course, probably means that he ends up a Shark. C'mon San Jose, don't want to spend $25 million or so to lock up Aaron Ward? Burke does much better in a bidding room by himself.