Saturday, June 27, 2015

Hextall pulls fast one, gets rid of Grossmann, Pronger contract

The   Philadelphia  Flyers completed their drafting on the second day in South Florida, but the fireworks were far from over.

Ron Hextall announced Saturday afternoon that the club acquired forward  Sam Gagner  and a conditional draft pick from the Arizona Coyotes. The best part, was what he had to jettison: defenseman Nicklas Grossmann and the retired Chris Pronger's remaining salary and its merciless cap hit.

Gagner,  25, played  just one season in Arizona, scoring 15 goals and totaling 41  points in 81 games. In his eight-season career for the Oilers and Coyotes, the  former No. 6  pick in the 2007 draft has posted 101 goals and 194 assists in 481 games.

The  conditional draft pick will be a fourth-round choice in the 2016 draft or a third-round selection in the 2017 draft.

Despite his acquisition, Hextall hedged quite a bit on the young man's future in Philadelphia when asked what his plans were. Gagner may be part of the next series of moves, which have been rumored to center around ridding themselves of Andrew MacDonald's contract or the actual body of RFA Luke Schenn.

If they keep the son of former NHLer Dave Gagner for next season, that would count $3.3 million on the cap which Hextall worked diligently to clear with this transaction.

"I honestly couldn't even give you a ballpark," the 25-year-old forward said on a conference call Sunday morning revealed in the Courier Post. "From the conversations I've had (with Flyers GM Ron Hextall), it's just trying to figure out where I fit against the cap. They said they like me as a player and they're gonna try and make it work, but in this league with the cap situation and everything like that, it's hard for me to say."

The  30-year-old Grossmann  blocked 89 shots in 68 games for Philadelphia last season,  and departs  the club  with  38 points  in 198  appearances. In  nine seasons  with the Stars and Flyers, he has played in 531 games while recording 10 goals and 79 points. Once a reliable, dependable presence on the blueline, the Swede became a plodding presence over the last two seasons and a change of scenery was necessary since he was clearly not part of the new, quick vanguard envisioned by Hextall on the back line. 

Pronger,  40,  has not played  since early in the  2011-12 season due to multiple injuries which ultimately led to post-concussion syndrome and had been working with the National Hockey League in an unofficial capacity to remove any doubt of CBA circumvention.

For  the  Coyotes, though, Pronger has  off-ice value. Although he is only due $525,000  per  season through the 2016-17,  he counts $4.9 million against the salary  cap  as the average annual  value of the seven-year contract he signed with the Flyers prior to the 2010-11 season.

Per  the current  Collective Bargaining  Agreement, all  teams' payrolls  must exceed $52.8 million for the upcoming season.
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