The Philadelphia Flyers traded the contract of Chris Pronger plus defenceman Nicklas Grossmann to the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for centre Sam Gagner and a conditional 2016 or 2017 draft pick.
Gagner had 15 goals and 26 assists in 81 games for the Coyotes last season, but it was clear the Coyotes wanted to part ways with the 25-year-old. Sportsnet’s Mark Spector reported Friday the Coyotes were seriously considering buying out Gagner’s contract if they could not find a suitable trade partner.
The most interesting detail of the trade, though, is the fact it involves Pronger, who hasn’t played an NHL game since 2011. The future Hall of Famer has been recovering from concussion symptoms as a result of taking a stick to the eye. The 40-year-old hasn’t officially retired.
Pronger, who had to waive his no-movement clause for the deal to go through, currently works for the league’s Department of Player Safety.
Pronger — a Hart and Norris Trophy winner, Stanley Cup champion and Olympic gold medallist — spent 18 seasons in the NHL scoring 157 goals, 541 assists and 1,590 penalty minutes in 1,167 NHL games. In addition to his time with the Flyers, he played for the Hartford Whalers, St. Louis Blues, Edmonton Oilers and Anaheim Ducks.
The Coyotes are one of three teams that need to spend money to reach the NHL’s new salary cap floor, which was recently set at $52.8 million for the 2015-16 season. Pronger’s cap hit is $4.941 million for the next two seasons.
Grossmann played 198 games with the Flyers over parts of four seasons. The 30-year-old had 14 points in 68 games last season. His cap hit next season is $3.5 million before he becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2016.
Coyotes general manager Don Maloney told Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston earlier this week that his team wouldn’t have a difficult time reaching the cap floor.
“Believe me, we’re going to have no problem getting to the floor,” Maloney said. “We are going to bring in some players. It doesn’t take much if you add an experienced defencemen or two, and a forward or two.”
The conditional pick the Flyers receive will either be a fourth-round selection in 2016 or a 2017 third-rounder.