With his team atop the Eastern Conference and just one point out of first in the NHL, it’s not surprising Holmgren’s in “I gotta salvage the season!” mode.
But how does he salvage it?
Pronger could go on Long-Term Injury Reserve (LTIR) like Marc Savard did in Boston, meaning the Flyers would have $4.9 million in available cap space. That’s a sizeable chunk, definitely enough to acquire a serviceable defenseman or, if Holmgren was willing to trade a player with a decent-sized cap hit, an even larger asset.
Knowing that, there’s sure to be plenty of scuttlebutt surrounding Nashville. The Preds have two tantalizing options in Shea Weber and Ryan Suter, and Holmgren has an extensive history of dealing with GM David Poile. The two first linked up in 2007 for the Scott Hartnell-Kimmo Timonen deal and have made a few more since (most recently, Holmgren acquired Dan Hamhuis’ negotiation rights from Poile.)
There are a few less-compelling options as well. Francois Beauchemin is a guy to keep an eye on — Holmgren and Anaheim GM Bob Murray got together for the Pronger deal in 2009 and if Anaheim falls short of the playoffs (which looks likely), unloading the 31-year-old UFA-to-be is a possibility.
One also wonders what the future holds for Jaroslav Spacek. The 37-year-old probably isn’t in Carolina’s plans moving forward and at this stage of his career, might want a shot at the postseason (another thing that’s not in Carolina’s plans.)
If things continue to go south for Tampa, Pavel Kubina could be in play. Sounds like Calgary would be interested in unloading Anton Babchuk and/or Cory Sarich.
Of course, Holmgren could stand pat and see how things play out. Even without Pronger, Philadelphia still has a solid top-four defense of Timonen, Andrej Meszaros, Matt Carle and Braydon Coburn. The Flyers have also gotten surprisingly solid production out of rookie Marc-Andre Bourdon and should get veteran Andreas Lilja (ankle) back from injury soon.