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Prongs/Jiggy: Who Do You Move?

ARTHUR:
The offseason talk has begun for the Anaheim Ducks. At this point, it looks like they'll make a play for most, or all, of their Restricted Free Agents (Bodie, Brown, Christensen and Wisniewski), as an unmatchable offer sheet for any of those players is unlikely and well-worth the draft picks of any team foolish enough to tender it. In the UFA department, Hedican will likely retire, the elder Niedermayer gains you the younger, Beauchemin may become unaffordable and Todd Marchant may come back at a discount or at the same price as a permanent 3rd line center. As far as free agents on other teams, those waters are still a bit murky (though Whicker of the OC Register is ready to toss a contract Chad Larose's way).

Let's deal in the concrete, Daniel. Assuming we sign Scotty, which is not TOO great a leap, considering he'd like to be ready to play in the Vancouver Olympics next year. What's the trade you would make? Do you move Prongs for Kariya, as you suggested earlier? Do you dangle the prospect of Montreal in front of Jiggy (though WHO you could get back, not named Markov, from that free agency depleted team, I don't know)? Or do you move some other big contract for some other player I haven't even thought to consider? Who's your big move and for whom?

DANIEL:
I have an interesting scenario. First, I'd like to say I still love a Pronger for Kariya trade. We should get a pick in the deal. I think a 3rd or 4th rounder would do, mostly because St. Louis will get more use out of a veteran blue liner than it will out of a player like Kariya. We wouldn't save a lot on the cap hit, but Kariya would do so much for us. If we can't sign Niedermayer, we need to find a way to take Kariya out of St. Louis without giving up Pronger because he can do a lot of the same rover things from the point on a power play and he would solidify our second line.

But onto trades, I think we should trade in the division. Every time I look at the list of what teams have and what they might be willing to part with, I'm very unimpressed. The free agent market is going to be great this year. Not because of all the high priced talent, but because of the sheer depth. There will be plenty of opportunity to fill need at very reasonable prices, more so upfront than on the blue line, which makes it that much harder to part with Pronger. But I think L.A. would make a great trading partner. They have the 5th overall pick this year. So, they might be more willing to part with a Top 6 forward. Plus, they have two young defensemen in need of a mentor, who knows how to teach solid play and, more importantly, how to be dominant. There have been rumors surrounding Frolov before, not very serious ones, but rumors nonetheless. I think if we get Frolov and the Kings' first round pick in the 2010 draft, it's a good deal for Pronger. The Kings look like they are on the way up. So, maybe a pick in the teens in 2010 won't be something they feel they need to hold onto. I'd also like a pick in the later rounds of this year's draft, if we can get the deal done by then, maybe 4th or later, but 3rd would be nice.

On the flip side, I see this as an equally good deal in a Giguere trade--

ARTHUR:
Wait a minute. You think the Kings would take on a 6M salary at goalie? Where they already have two goaltenders, both of whom carry GAA's at least .5 a goal better than Giguere?

I'd maybe give you Pronger because he is an asset at only an extra year, but I doubt the Kings, the SMALLEST payroll in the league, who haven't tried to keep a multi-million dollar player since-- I don't know --Ziggy Palffy, and who have only one player making 4M (though Kopitar's 7M kicks in next year) would move a single asset to add a player at a position where their depth chart is full, qualified and priced at less than 1.5M for BOTH goaltenders.

DANIEL:
Yes, I do. I'm not sure the Kings are as SET at goalie as people think. The one problem they have always had, since Hrudey was released, has been in net. The chance to anchor that position and let the team flourish, even for just two years, should be worth any price. It's not like they haven't tried to pay a goalie before, remember Cloutier? The difference, here, is that Jiggy has a ring and a Conn Smythe that Cloutier didn't.

I don't deny that Quick and Ersberg are quality between the pipes, but they have a collected 0 playoff wins to their names and the Kings will be looking to make that jump to a playoff team this year, after a promising start to last season. Jiggy will give them the experience they need in net to make that jump. I don't see how having a 23 year old rookie sit for a year and a half behind Giguere is bad. And if they re-sign him as an RFA, Quick will still only be 25 when Jiggy's contract expires. This means he'll still have 7-10 years between the pipes for the Kings. Also, Ersberg becomes a trade asset at that point. Two years gives the Kings time to groom another backup and shop Ersberg for extra scoring or defensive depth, which they definitely need. I think the Kings can tolerate the contract in order to make sure their franchise goalie can handle the pressure of a Stanley Cup run. The Kings have been second class in So Cal Hockey since we won the Cup; picking up Jiggy could be enough to make them relevant again.

Although, if we were to deal Jiggy instead of Pronger, I would want a Kings draft pick this year. Jiggy is a Conn Smythe winner and worth two first rounders. Frolov was a first round pick; seems like a fair price. So, for those keeping track, it would be Jiggy for Alexander Frolov, the 2009 first round pick, and a late pick in this draft, possibly a 4th or, better yet, a 3rd.

I think the Giguere trade ends up being the best bet. The Kings can slow up Quick's development and have him be around a hard working goalie, who knows how to get it done at a high level. We get a forward, who scored 32 goals last year and who is very capable of playing the power style of game we like, but who also has speed and a little finesse in the transition game. This gives Carlyle much more flexibility in moving around the likes of Perry and Bobby Ryan because Frolov could play on the top line or round out the second line. Although, I'd much rather see a transition forward like Perry with Ebbett and Selanne. This also has the bonus of Giguere not moving far, so maybe he'd wave his no-trade clause and let it happen.

I'm not completely sold on moving Pronger. He became so much more of a monster when he realized he was staying for the year. If this is how he plays with job security, I think he deserves an extension with a no-trade clause. Pronger doesn't seem to be dropping off too far, and if we can somehow keep those 5 defensemen we were working with during the playoffs with us all year, we might win another division title.

ARTHUR:
Alright. I'll agree that Frolov is about the perfect size/speed of player we're looking for, which is hard to come by in the free agent market. It's probably my lack of faith in the Kings that makes me question the move.

It pains me to say this, Daniel. As you know, I'm the only one we've seen at Ponda Center who rocks Jiggy's Halifax jersey, but . . . I'd move Giguere. It's Pronger, Giguere or both, the way I see it. As far as what you get for them, I'd say you fill a hole on the team, add a superstar or get prospects and save money.

Here's the thing though, if you're going to move at least one of them, why move Pronger? We saw this team make a run without Giguere, and they were pretty good. We have no idea what they'd be like without Pronger, and Carlyle even switched to an effective Pronger/Niedermayer pairing in Game 6 against the Red Wings. It would be hard for me to see this team move Pronger, and not think of it as rebuilding. Yes, we technically prepared to move him by picking up Whitney, but we know Whitney can't actually replace him and that losing Pronger AND Beauchemin would severely deplete this defensive corps. I think losing Pronger is the Devil-we-don't-know, whereas losing Jiggy is the Devi-we've-become-acquainted-with this Spring.

So, where do you move a guy with a no-trade clause? I'd imagine Jiggy's first choice would be Montreal, and I'm sure the Habs would love to have him. The Habs may get some more players under contract by then, but for now, I'd say this is a prospect trade. We move Jiggy for a 1st/2nd Round Draft pick, Ryan McDonagh and a young NHL player (maybe Latendresse if the RFA re-signs) or rookie (most likely Max Pacioretty or Yannick Weber). If we need a goaltending insurance policy, we take Price in the deal instead of a skater. Sounds steep, I know, but a Conn Smythe backstop is hard to come by in any offseason market.

Believe it or not, I actually like a Montreal trade, both for the likelihood of Giguere signing off on it and for what it would bring to the Ducks. But since this IS a blog, and I should start a totally off-the-wall rumor: Giguere for Cheechoo. Yes, the logical suitors for Giguere are Colorado, Tampa Bay and maybe Philadelphia, but if the Sharks are down on Nabokov, you have to ask HOW down they are. The contract lengths match, the cap hit for Giguere is 12M over the next two years, the cap hit for Cheechoo is 6M over the next two years and both players make an additional 1M in salary over those numbers.

On the likelihood of such a ridiculous trade, I say the Sharks do it because they've shopped Cheechoo before, and they may truly be down on Nabokov after his performance in the First Round this year. The Ducks do it because Jiggy will probably sign off on such a short geographical jump to a legit contender in a region with similar healthcare agencies and experts for his son. And the Ducks also do it because the whole "trading within your own division" thing has never really applied to these two teams. They've done the 'big' trade before. The pre-lockout schedule means fewer games against each other, most of which the Ducks can concede to the Sharks. And both players will see an expanded role if traded, but are equally likely to be the "difference" in any series between the teams in the near future (i.e. the remaining two years on their contracts). So, Giguere for Cheechoo with Anaheim spending the extra money on a free agent.