Chris Pronger

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Panthers officially add Chris Pronger to front office

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Earlier this month, it was reported that the Florida Panthers were talking to Chris Pronger about joining their front office.

Exactly three weeks later, the Panthers confirmed the move during a conference call with GM Dale Tallon.

Dan Murphy of Sportsnet is reporting that Pronger’s official title will be “senior adviser to the president of hockey operations”. So basically, he’ll be working closely with Tallon.

Pronger has been with the NHL’s Department of Players Safety since the start of the 2014 season.

“Chris has spent the last three years working for the League’s Department of Player Safety and is ready to move into a more competitive, executive role,” Tallon said in a release. “One of the most dominant defensemen of his era, Chris’ winning resume and wealth of hockey knowledge will be a great asset to our hockey club. We’re thrilled that he has chosen to join the Panthers organization.”

The 42-year-old is now free to join a team because his last player contract has (finally) expired, and he’s no longer on anyone’s payroll.

This move is hardly surprising considering Pronger has already mentioned on numerous occasions that he’d like to be a general manager one day.

Report: Panthers may add Chris Pronger to front office

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With that zany contract finally expiring, Chris Pronger could be a hot prospect for NHL front offices. Then again, he might not be on that “free agent market” for very long.

The Florida Panthers are in discussions to hire Pronger and have him work with GM Dale Tallon, TSN’s Darren Dreger reports.

As Dreger notes, Pronger has been working with the Department of Player Safety, which was a gig that helped fellow former star Brendan Shanahan develop as an executive. Working with Tallon could be quite the boon for Pronger.

The Panthers already announced that Shawn Thornton was moved to a business-related gig, so the Cats would boast arguably the most menacing group of suits if Pronger indeed joins the fold.

(Keep your head on a swivel at the water cooler, non-former-NHL players in the Panthers front office.)

Related: Could Larry Robinson be joining the Florida Panthers?

Flames d-man Smid signs in Czech League

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Ladislav Smid isn’t ready to call it a career yet.

Smid, the 31-year-old defenseman that missed all of last year with a neck injury, has signed with Czech League team Liberec, the club announced on Tuesday.

He just wrapped the last of a four-year, $14 million deal with a $3.5M average annual cap hit.

Smid’s last NHL action came in ’15-16, when he appeared in 22 games for the Flames. The end of his tenure in Calgary was marked largely by injury and lineup absences, this after being acquired from Edmonton in 2013 (and scoring eight points in 73 games in his first full season with the Flames).

At one point considered a high-end prospect — the Ducks took him ninth overall in 2004 — Smid is probably best known as one of the pieces Edmonton acquired in the infamous Chris Pronger-to-Anaheim trade. He leaves North America with over 500 NHL games on his resume, and represented the Czechs at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

NHL, NHLPA agree on list of veteran players ‘exempt’ from expansion draft

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With expansion draft getting closer and closer, the NHL and NHLPA continue to finalize small details regarding this summer’s big event.

According to Craig Custance, the league and the players’ association have agreed on a small list of players that will be exempt from being selected by Vegas.

Here’s the official list of names that was sent to every NHL team: Dave Bolland (Arizona), Craig Cunningham (Arizona), Chris Pronger (Arizona), Cody McCormick (Buffalo), David Clarkson (Columbus), Johan Franzen (Detroit), Joe Vitale (Detroit), Ryane Clowe (New Jersey), Mikhail Grabovski (Islanders), Pascal Dupuis (Penguins), Nathan Horton (Toronto), Stephane Robidas (Toronto).

In each case, the player has been forced to miss an extended period of time because of a serious injury, but they haven’t officially retired.

The move benefits certain teams, like Columbus, who would have been struck protecting Clarkson because he has a no-move clause in his contract. The same goes for Horton in Toronto.

It’s also important to remember that at the end of the expansion draft, Vegas needs to have selected players making at least 60 percent of the salary cap limit. Preventing these players from being taken means the Golden Knights can’t use an injured player’s salary to get to their 60 percent floor and then place the same player on LTIR to open up cap space during the season.

Oilers end NHL’s longest playoff drought; Sharks, Ducks also clinch

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There’s something beautiful about the symmetry on Tuesday … unless you’re a Detroit Red Wings fan, maybe.

On the same night that the longest active NHL playoff streak ended at 25 for Detroit, the longest playoff drought concluded when the Edmonton Oilers clinched a postseason spot by beating the Los Angeles Kings 2-1.

The Oilers haven’t reached the playoffs since 2005-06, when Chris Pronger lifted them to Game 7 of the 2006 Stanley Cup Final.

In doing so, other dominoes fell. Both the Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks also punched their tickets to the postseason.

The Sharks, of course, hope to exceed last season’s surprising run to the 2016 Stanley Cup Final.

Meanwhile, the Anaheim Ducks continue their run of strong regular seasons, even as memories of their Cup win start to fade into the distance. All three teams are currently vying for the Pacific Division title.

The Western Conference’s eight teams are dangerously close to being locked into place, as the Nashville Predators, Calgary Flames and St. Louis Blues are all close to looking down their spots as well.

Want the East perspective? Check out this summary of Tuesday’s events from the perspective of the other conference.