Here's the <a href="http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/sports/stories.nsf/blues/story/A6185C479FAF658F8625705200230F26?OpenDocument">PD story</a> Goold said Rutherford would write (Goold seems to have co-wrote it)
Pronger is dealt to Oilers
By Jeremy Rutherford And Derrick Goold Of the Post-Dispatch
Saying the team could not oblige Chris Pronger's desire for a long-term contract, the Blues traded the former MVP and Norris Trophy winner to Edmonton late Tuesday night.
Pronger, who was holding a $7.22 million qualifying offer from the Blues, was dealt for Oilers' defensemen Eric Brewer, Doug Lynch and Jeff Woywitka.
"Chris has been a great player for us," Blues general manager Larry Pleau said. "He's been a workhorse, logs a lot of ice time, played through injury, I can't say enough about him. Since I've been here, eight or nine years, he's been here the whole time. And he's handled himself in a first-class manner the whole time.
"But this franchise right now economically . . . the term that we knew Chris was looking for was something we couldn't do."
The rumors began last week that the Blues were interested in dealing Pronger, 30. But the NHL entry draft came and went without any moves by the Blues. Anaheim and Florida were two of the teams said to be interested in acquiring the 6-foot-5 defenseman.
"There were rumors, enough rumors that you knew eventually something would happen," Pronger said. "But this wasn't one of the names you heard about. I think it's every Canadian kid's dream to play at home. It's an appealing spot for that reason. It's something exciting to have that chance."
Still, he said it will be difficult leaving the Blues.
"I had 10 wonderful years here, met a lot of terrific people," Pronger said. "I have a lot of great friendships from here, I met my wife here and I grew up from a little boy to a man, really maturing in front of everybody's eyes here. I'll miss it. I'm an Oiler now."
Said Pleau: "It's always hard things like that. Dealing with a person like him, it's hard to do these types of things. But it's something we had to do, something that's right for this franchise, to get something in return."
While the Blues were not interested in signing Pronger to a long-term contract, Edmonton already has approached Pronger's agent, Pat Morris, about a long-term deal.
Rather than let Pronger leave as an unrestricted free agent after this season, though, the Blues decided to get value now for their team captain, who came to St. Louis in a controversial trade for Brendan Shanahan in 1995.
"Well it's obviously something that was a difficult decision for (the Blues)," Pronger said. "Not knowing the future and what I was going to do next year as an unrestricted free agent and not being able to give me the long-term deal that had been asked about - it was a difficult decision, I'm sure."
Pleau said it was important to get value in return.
"We weren't going to let him walk if we didn't have to," he said. "We took it one step at a time. The first step was qualifying him. From there, what can we can get?"
Pleau would not comment on the amount of interest in Pronger, but said he was more than happy with the players the Blues are getting in return:
Brewer, 26, spent the last four seasons in Edmondton, averaging seven goals a season and 25 points there. A member of Team Canada's 2002 Olympic gold medal team at the Salt Lake City games with Pronger, Brewer is a stout defenseman at 6 feet 3, 220 pounds, but one rooted in plus-minus, not in points produced.
He was a member of Edmonton's power-play unit, getting three of his seven goals in the 2003-04 season and seven of his 18 assists with the man advantage.
Lynch, a 22-year-old defenseman, collected 109 penalty minutes and 14 points over 74 games with Edmonton's American Hockey League affiliate in the 2004-05 season. The 43rd pick overall in the 2001 entry draft, Lynch has height - 6-3 - and is developing the strength to be a bruising blueliner. A product of the Red Deer team in junior hockey's Western Hockey League, Lynch topped 180 penalty minutes twice while playing for the Rebels.
Jeff Woywitka, a teammate of Lynch's in Red Deer and on the Edmonton Roadrunners (AHL), has similar size, though he has shown flashes of offensive potential. Woywitka, a 21-year-old defenseman, is 6-2, 209 pounds. In the 2004-05 season, he scored six goals and totaled 26 points over 80 games for the Roadrunners. He was drafted 27th overall by Philadelphia in 2001.
"Very happy with Brewer," Pleau said. "He's a star in this game. He logs a lot of ice time. The two young kids, we feel like they're going to be good NHL players. I'm looking forward to all three players. All three have size."
The Blues now hold a $2 million qualifying offer on Brewer. Pleau said he hopes the team can sign him to a longer-term contract.
"We'll work on that as soon as we can," Pleau said.
Lynch and Woywitka are signed through the 2005-06 season on entry-level contracts.
They were part of a young Edmonton team that Pronger said he knows a little about.
"I know they're a good young team," Pronger said. "They have a lot of skilled players up front, good young guys on the back end. I've played with (coach Craig MacTavish) and I know some of the other guys up there."
The Blues signed three more forwards Tuesday. The only one with NHL experience is Trent Whitfield, a 5-foot-10, 204-pound center, who scored six goals in 44 games with the Washington Capitals in 2003-04. Whitfield, 28, had 17 goals and 38 assists playing last season with the Portland Pirates of the American Hockey League.
The Blues also said they signed minor leaguers Jeff Hoggan (left wing) and Ryan Ramsay (center). Hoggan, 27, had 16 goals and nine assists with the Worcester IceCats in 2004-05. Ramsay, 22, had six goals and 12 assists with Worcester last season.