Chris Pronger

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.

Bolts avoid arbitration with Namestnikov — two years, $3.875M

Vladislav Namestnikov
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Tampa Bay has avoided Friday’s scheduled arbitration hearing with forward Vladislav Namestnikov, agreeing to a two-year, $3.875M deal on Tuesday evening, per ESPN.

Namestnikov, 23, had a breakout campaign last year, scoring 14 goals and 35 points in 80 games — all career highs. The former first-round pick also appeared in 17 playoff games for the Bolts, scoring a goal and three points while helping the club to the Eastern Conference Final.

Coming off a one-year deal in which he made $874,125, the diminutive Russian gets a nice pay bump with this latest contract, and a bit of security with the two-year term. He should play a fairly integral role next season, coming off a year in which he finished tied for fourth on the team in goals, with Tyler Johnson.

But while tonight may be about Namestnikov, it’s another Russian forward in Tampa Bay that everybody now has their eyes on — Nikita Kucherov, the playoff scoring sensation that declined to file for arbitration, but still requires a new deal.

Given some of the big-money contracts GM Steve Yzerman has handed out this summer — namely those to Steve Stamkos, Victor Hedman and Alex Killorn — the Kucherov negotiations are definitely ones to keep an eye on.

Talks ongoing between Wild and Dumba, meeting expected soon

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There’s just one piece of business left for Minnesota this summer — a new contract for RFA defenseman Matt Dumba.

And it sounds like that piece of business will soon be attended to.

From the Star-Tribune:

There have been ongoing talks between Wild assistant GM Brent Flahr and [Dumba’s] agent Craig Oster.

The two are expected to meet face to face in Calgary at the Hockey Canada camp.

Dumba, the former No. 7 overall pick, just wrapped his entry-level deal, coming off a campaign in which he set career highs in games played (81), goals (10) and points (26).

He also notched a pair of assists in the Wild’s six-game loss to Dallas in the playoffs.

Dumba, 22, did see his name surface in trade talks this season. There was a report in late January that he was the return piece in a potential swap for Tampa Bay’s Jonathan Drouin, and he’s been tied to teams looking for a blueline upgrade.

A good puck mover with offensive skills — and a right-handed shot — Dumba is definitely a commodity. What’s more, logic suggests the Wild could opt to move him, given the long-term financial commitments to fellow defensemen Ryan Suter (signed through 2025 at $7.53 million), Jonas Brodin (2021 at $4.16M), Jared Spurgeon (2020, $5.18M) and Marco Scandella (2020, $4M).

Minnesota has some other young defensive prospects in the system, too.

There’s former Gophers standout Mike Reilly, Miami of Ohio product Louis Belpedio and Gustav Olofsson, the 46th overall pick in ’13 that’s been honing his game in AHL Iowa (and made his NHL debut last season).

The Wild are in control of the Dumba situation and can slow play negotiations, possibly while re-exploring trade scenarios. Don’t forget the Bruins are still in search of the “transitional” defenseman they desperately want.

But should things go the expected way and Dumba re-signs in Minnesota, the Star-Tribune said a bridge deal is the “likeliest” outcome.

Journeyman enforcer Rosehill signs with Scottish team

Paul Bissonnette, Jay Rosehill
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Noted pugilist Jay Rosehill has followed in the footsteps of his fellow tough guys, and will try his hand overseas.

Specifically, in the United Kingdom.

On Tuesday, the EIHL’s Scottish-based outfit in Braehead — the Clan — announced it had signed Rosehill for the upcoming campaign. The move comes after the 31-year-old spent each of the last two seasons with Philly’s AHL affiliate in Lehigh Valley.

Though he’s slowed down in recent years, Rosehill has long been known as an extremely active fighter. At no time was this more evident than during the ’08-09 campaign, when he fought a staggering 33 times (yeah, thirty-three) while playing for AHL Norfolk.

Rosehill last played in the NHL during the ’13-14 campaign, scoring two goals in 34 games for the Flyers — while racking up 90 PIM.

Here’s an example of some of his most famous handiwork:

As mentioned above, the EIHL has landed a few notable ex-NHL fighters. Cam Janssen, Kevin Westgarth, Paul Bissonnette and Tom Sestito have all played there.

 

 

Veteran d-man Foster retires, moves into coaching

UNIONDALE, NY - DECEMBER 13:  Kurtis Foster #26 of the Minnesota Wild looks on during their NHL game against the New York Islanders on December 13, 2005 at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York.  The Wild defeated the Islanders 4-3.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
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Kurtis Foster, who appeared in over 400 games during a 10-year NHL career, is hanging up his skates to enter the next phase of his hockey life — coaching.

Foster, 34, has rejoined his former junior team in OHL Peterborough as an assistant coach, per the Examiner. The decision comes after Foster spent the last three years playing overseas in the KHL and, most recently, in the German League.

The 40th overall pick in 2000, Foster is often remembered for a horrific leg break while playing for Minnesota during the 2007-08 campaign, in which his femur was shattered by Torrey Mitchell after Mitchell tried to prevent an icing call.

The severity of the collision and Foster’s injury — he underwent emergency surgery, nearly bled out and almost lost his leg — prompted an immediate rule tweak from the NHL, and has since been viewed as a catalyst for the league’s adoption of no-touch icing.

Impressively, Foster recovered from the broken femur to post a career-high 42 points in 74 games with the Lightning in ’09-10.

In addition to the Wild and Bolts, Foster spent time with the Thrashers, Oilers, Ducks, Devils and Flyers.