From the Miami Herald, by way of TSN's Ice Chips page:
Florida GM Mike Keenan has informed Edmonton GM Kevin Lowe the Panthers will no longer would pursue a trade for Chris Pronger. The Oilers were thought to want Jay Bouwmeester and either Nathan Horton or Stephen Weiss.
So, given that signing a good free agent defenceman is entirely impossible at the moment, we pretty much have to get one in return; Florida looked like the best option, to me, but now that they're out, what?
Oh, wait, as I was posting, this came in. Pronger to the Ducks for a player that (reportedly) isn't Scott Niedermayer, and a non-roster player, plus a bunch of high-end draft picks. Which means, uh, it's rebuilding time!!!
UPDATE: As mentioned in the comments, the players are Joffrey Lupul and Ladislav Smid, who is supposedly one of the ten best prospects in the world, according to some people who are supposed to know these things. I also keep hearing several conditional high picks, presumably dependent on Pronger's/the Ducks' performance (UPDATED: two firsts, 2007 and conditional, and a second in 2008).
So, fuck. Is this deal better than Bouwmeester/Horton? Depends on how quickly Smid goes from prospect to Pronger-calibre defenceman, if ever. I think Lupul is at least a wash with Horton, maybe better. As daryl points out in the comments, high draft picks from a team that looks capable of top-of-the-league finishes for the next four years doesn't really mean much. I suppose it means we could package two picks for a top one, but yeah. We also save a lot of salary, which I guess we offer to Spacek and some other UFA forward?
Or, actually, come to think of it, maybe getting a bunch of first-round picks from Anaheim means we take a run at a good RFA? If we sign Bouwmeester (Bergeron, Boyes, Pitkanen?) for anything less than about $4.5mil, it's only three first-round picks. Ballsy move if we do it, but it would make more sense than Pronger for a maybe-first-line forward and a prospect, however good.
Right now, though, I'm going to call this deal largely suspect, with a chance of being a patented pre-CBA soon-to-be-UFA, loss-recoup special if Snid turns out to be a Calder candidate on our backend. If that happens AND Lowe steals a quality RFA, I'll nominate him for Ballsy Mad Genius (perhaps Orbs of Guile). If going for an RFA is our plan and we can't actually sign them, he gets a hat tip for creativity and a finger wag for lack of foresight.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Whatever we do, incredible deal for Anaheim. Says here their defence is Pronger, Niedermayer, Beauchemin (who started to look pretty good in the playoffs), Vishnevski, Sean O'Donnell and Joe Dipenta. Only made worse by the fact you could put dead cats with Pronger or Niedermayer and they'd look like top-four defencemen. I think Burke earns his genius title on this trade, especially since, with all the young players he's got coming into their own, not having top picks for a year or two won't hurt much.
Quoth The Raven: 'Oh Those Oilers!'
2 months ago