Steve Ludzik of The Score in Canada is putting it on the line this afternoon by reporting that "the Anaheim Ducks have traded defenseman Chris Pronger to the Los Angeles Kings for D Jack Johnson and the 5th overall pick in the upcoming draft."
Chasing the story, Rich Hammond of Inside The Kings has received a text message from Kings GM Dean Lombardi that simply said, "Rumors not true." Eric Duhatschek of the Globe & Mail also received a hearty "NO" (yes, all caps) from Ducks GM Bob Murray. As Duhatschek explains:
Certainly, there can be no official deal anyway between teams until the Stanley Cup is won tonight. The roster freeze that goes into effect at the NHL trade deadline remains in place until the season is over - for purposes of fairness, more than anything else.
So that's where this stands for now. As Ludzik and Duhatschek both explain, this deal would make perfect sense for both teams; and for Pronger, from the obvious geographically obsessed spouse perspective. Johnson's an RFA due for a raise; Pronger will be a UFA after next season and is due $6.25 million in 2009-10. The Ducks get younger and cheaper; the Kings get an anchor for an already talented blue line and juice a middle-of-the-pack power play.
If the report by The Score is accurate, then Lombardi is aggressively shifting his philosophy from the steady, fiscally conservative build to the acquisition of high-price talent for a playoff push. That could be a harbinger for other moves, with Dany Heatley and Vincent Lecavalier in play.
I'm on the road to Jersey right now, so check out the Y! Sports Ducks newsfeed and Hammond's blog for updates on the Pronger front.
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