When the Flyers announced their trade for Chris Pronger on Friday night, it was seen widely as a "win-now" move. They were trading away a huge chunk of their youth -- two first round picks, a solid player in Joffrey Lupul, and a potential defensive gem in Luca Sbisa. In essence, the Flyers traded away four first round picks for an aging superstar and a career minor leaguer, Ryan Dingle.
If you look at the trade in that sense, it's easy to understand why people are upset. But the truth of the matter is that the trade gives the Flyers all the depth they need at defense, while trading away only a minor piece of the offensive depth they enjoyed last season. Pronger is a game changer, one that flat out scares the other teams.
"It certainly doesn't help us," Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau told the media in Montreal. "Everywhere he goes he makes that team a threat to win the Stanley Cup. I believe he's going to do the same thing for Philadelphia. Philadelphia got a lot better. We'll just have to dig deep and hopefully we're able to get by them."
The consensus at the draft this weekend among people from around the Eastern Conference is that the acquisition of Pronger makes the Flyers one of the best teams in the league and it makes them an immediate contender for the Cup. There is, however, always that "...but..." moment, and it always comes back to the goaltending.
On Wednesday, the Flyers went without signing a goaltender that could challenge Ray Emery for the starting position. That's not to say that Brian Boucher isn't a good signing. He can be a solid mentor for Emery and when he needs a break, Boosh can step in and hopefully play admirably -- as he did last season when Nabokov went down in San Jose.
But to say that the Flyers goaltending woes are solved cannot be determined as of now. Boucher isn't a starter and Emery is a gigantic question mark. It's not as if he played poorly in Russia -- his GAA was below two -- but there's no guarantee that success will translate back to the NHL. Second chances are deserved and it's good that he's getting one, but isn't it shocking to anybody that he's getting one without even a challenge?
Emery is a guy that can lead a team to the promised land. He has the skill and if he can bring the work ethic and an unyielding desire to win, he can get the job done. For the Flyers and for the fans, he better put it all together. There is no safety net. Is that too much faith to put in one guy?
He wanted his chance for redemption. Here it is, Ray.
special thanks for Pension Plan Puppets, who contributed audio for this report