Remember back at the NHL draft when Samuel Morin was obsessively compared to Chris Pronger? We called it unfair, and Paul Holmgren called it unfair, mostly because it is ridiculously unfair. Pronger is a future first-ballot Hall of Famer and one of the best defensemen to ever play. But hey, at least Morin isn't alone in trying to live up to those expectations.
Matt Brigidi and I were bored yesterday and did some quick Googling, just to see how many players have been compared to Pronger over the years. This is certainly not a comprehensive list, but well, it's long anyway.
For the better part of two years, the Flyers have been looking for someone to replace Chris Pronger.
And then, with the 11th pick in Sunday's NHL Entry Draft at the Prudential Center, they find a kid who not only plays like the injured defenseman but even looks a bit like him.
Nashville's Seth Jones
With a cannon of a shot as his most deadly offensive weapon, Jones recorded 14 goals and 56 points last season with the Western Hockey League champion Portland Winterhawks. On the defensive side, he's a punishing presence who skates extremely well, making life miserable for opponents of any skill level.
As one scout mentioned to me Thursday night in New York, he's the complete package -- one that reminds him of Chris Pronger.
Edmonton's Darnell Nurse
In offering what he describes as the "complete package," Nurse's game has often drawn comparisons to that of retired Stanley Cup Champion Chris Pronger.
Buffalo's Rasmus Ristolainen
Rasmus Ristolainen isn't your typical Finnish defenseman.
And that's just the 2013 NHL Draft. Four Pronger's in one draft class! What a coincidence!
Oh, wait. There's more?
Washington's Karl Alzner, drafted in 2007
Karl Alzner, a Calgary Hitmen blueliner from Burnaby who's the top-ranked defenceman, idolizes Scott Niedermayer but plays like Chris Pronger, relishing the dirty work in the corners and making break-out passes.
New Jersey's Eric Gelinas, drafted in 2009
"I liked Geli when I was there," former Devils assistant coach Larry Robinson said Saturday morning. "We said in training camp when we saw him he looked like Pronger out there on the ice the way he skates and everything else."
New Jersey's Seth Helgeson, drafted in 2009
Like with second-round pick, Eric Gelinas, there are comparisons to Chris Pronger because of his size, though Helgeson appears to be strictly a defensive defenseman.
Buffalo's Tyler Myers, drafted in 2008 & written in 2010
You can see that Myers (as of now) fits in right between the two. Pronger has a physical game right now that Myers can't match, though his offseason goals to gain wait and strength would go a long way at putting him in that territory. As for the much smaller Lidstrom, the offensive numbers are in line, with the +/- as the main outlier, thanks to the better goal-scoring of the Red Wings that year, compared to Buffalo this year (+64 goal differential).
Colorado's Nigel Williams, drafted in 2006, never played in the NHL
#11: Nigel Williams - has drawn comparisons to Chris Pronger. "There's not much downside"
Tampa Bay's Victor Hedman, drafted in 2009
The 6-6 Hedman has been called the Swedish Chris Pronger, although he doesn't play as well physically as Pronger.
"Chris Pronger did not come in and kick butt in Hartford right away," McGuire said. "This guy will probably come in and kick butt right away."
Boston's Dougie Hamilton, drafted in 2011
You do not often find defenceman who look and play like Hamilton. Because of his size, skating ability and offensive instincts, scouts have compared him to Calgary's Jay Bouwmeester or San Jose's Brent Burns. With the season he had in the Ontario Hockey League, Chris Pronger might be a better comparison because of how dominant he was.
You get the point. I get why the Pronger comparisons are made: He is the first person you think of when you picture a game-changing blend of physical play and puck-moving prowess. But he's the first person you think of because he is so great, and it's pretty sad and weird and lazy that we messed around on Google for barely 10 minutes and found 11 instances of people comparing prospects to Chris friggin' Pronger.
I mean, unless all of these guys go into the Hall. I won't hold my breath on Nigel Williams.