Injured Chris Pronger: “The year from hell is over”

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Chris Pronger’s season didn’t go exactly how he had it planned out. The Flyers did win the Atlantic Division title, but they bowed out meekly in the playoffs in the second round to the Bruins. Taking that and all the injury problems Pronger had to put up with and it makes for one pretty grumpy defenseman.

With the Flyers packing up today for the summer and a long offseason of wondering what the future holds for them, Pronger was a primary focus of attention after he was forced to sit out the final three games of the series against Boston with what’s believed to be a back injury. For the 36 year-old defenseman, having so many different ailments nag at him is a point of personal contention.

CSN Philly’s Tim Panaccio caught up with Pronger and he was straight-forward in talking about his bumps, bruises, and breaks that helped ruin both his and the Flyers season.

“The year from hell is over,” the Flyers defenseman said. “I started the season with a surgery and I’m going to end it probably, who knows, whether I get another one or not.”

Pronger underwent three surgeries, played just 50 regular season games, three playoff games, and could be facing a fourth surgery for a possible herniated disk, which shot pain down his leg.

“From an injury standpoint, it’s been the toughest year,” he said. “You start to get back and start feeling good, and another one crops up.

“Hopefully, a good summer of training and rehab on the various issues that I’ve had this year will rectify all those, and I can come into camp next year in a lot better shape, a lot healthier, and able to hopefully play 82 games next year.”

When next season begins Pronger will turn 37 and the Flyers had better hope that whatever work he gets done in the offseason pays off and he can play 82 games and the playoffs. After all, Pronger’s contract only goes through until the 2016-2017 season so making sure he can stay healthy well into his 40s would be a good thing.

Pronger’s situation is one the Flyers absolutely must allow him to get corrected. If he needs to get operated on, so be it, but without Pronger the Flyers are stuck in a bad way. Pronger missed the end of the regular season and parts of the Sabres playoff series thanks to a broken hand. Now with his back acting up, the team can’t help but be nervous even if Pronger isn’t.

More from Panaccio and Pronger about the concerns over his back.

“I don’t know if it’s to that point or not,” Pronger said of possible surgery. “I’ve got to see what the doctors see, what their recommendations are, and then weigh the pros and cons to whatever it is that we decide to do, and go from there.”

While the Flyers will have roster questions to get answered in the offseason, the worries for Pronger’s health are there as well and for good reason. How things go for him will point towards how the Flyers handle personnel since an injury nagged Pronger means having to keep the defense overstocked on the roster. There’s no doubting Pronger’s ability to play through pain and desire to get in the lineup at all times, but a Pronger at half-speed is no good to the team.

Losing Neal to Vegas was a ‘pretty big price to pay’ for Predators

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The Vegas Golden Knights named their team on Wednesday, and it was no surprise that James Neal was among their selections in the expansion draft.

Why not? Since entering the league in 2008, Neal has scored at least 20 goals in each of his nine seasons, hitting the 40-goal mark in 2011-12 as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

But after coming up two wins shy of a Stanley Cup this spring, Neal was left unprotected by the Predators.

Predators general manager David Poile had reportedly been in talks with Vegas GM George McPhee, but a deal couldn’t be achieved.

“With how well we played in the playoffs, I’d certainly like to bring everybody back, but the prices [to make a deal with Vegas] were very high,” Poile told the Predators website.

“[McPhee] was looking for younger players or high draft picks, and at the end of the day, I just felt that we had to do what the Expansion Draft was set out to do and that was to lose a player. In this case, we lost James Neal and that’s a pretty big price to pay.”

Neal has one more year left on his six-year contract that has an annual cap hit of $5 million, before he’s a pending unrestricted free agent at the end of next season.

Nashville has about $22.7 million in cap space, per CapFriendly, but five pending restricted free agents — Austin Watson, Frederick Gaudreau, Pontus Aberg and most notably Ryan Johansen and Viktor Arvidsson — in need of contracts. In Arvidsson’s case, he’s due for a significant raise from the $640,000 he made in NHL salary last season, in which he scored 31 goals and 61 points.

“James had a much bigger contract and he only had one year left before he was an unrestricted free agent. We didn’t have any negotiations, but there was no guarantees that we would be able to keep him. It really was a business decision. It was as simple as that,” Poile the Tennessean.

Caps re-sign Christian Djoos, who could get his NHL shot next season

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The Washington Capitals have re-signed defenseman Christian Djoos to a two-year, $1.3 million contract.

It’s a two-way deal in 2017-18, and a one-way deal the following season.

Djoos, 22, is expected to push for an NHL spot next season, along with Madison Bowey and possibly Tyler Lewington.

That’s because Karl Alzner and Kevin Shattenkirk, both unrestricted free agents, aren’t expected to re-sign with Washington.

On top of that, the Caps lost d-man Nate Schmidt in yesterday’s expansion draft.

Djoos, a seventh-round pick in 2012, had 13 goals and 45 assists in 66 games for AHL Hershey this past season.

It was his second full season in the AHL.

Bettman says NHL will call more slashes next season

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Commissioner Gary Bettman says the NHL will look to enforce slashing penalties more next season.

Following the league’s board of governors meeting, Bettman said pointless slashes to players’ hands will be called more. Ottawa’s Marc Methot and Calgary’s Johnny Gaudreau were among the players to miss time last season with hand injuries from slashes.

Related PHT coverage:

Gaudreau (finger) out six weeks, Treliving says Staal slash the culprit

— Flames made ‘mountain out of a molehill’ over Gaudreau slash

— Methot ‘out for weeks’ after suffering a shattered finger from Crosby slash

— Melnyk blasts ‘whiner’ Crosby, who won’t face hearing for Methot slash

Report: Vegas sends Trevor van Riemsdyk to Hurricanes

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Here. We. Go.

According to Frank Seravalli of TSN, the Vegas Golden Knights have sent defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk to the Carolina Hurricanes.

Van Riemsdyk was among 15 defensemen taken by the Golden Knights in Wednesday’s expansion draft, however, general manager George McPhee made a point of saying that, as a result of having this sudden surplus at the position, he was going to have to move some of those blue liners.

McPhee has been busy over the past few days, making deals with a number of teams ahead making his expansion selections, stockpiling draft picks, including three in the top 15 of the first round.

More to come.