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02-04-2011, 12:48 AM
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Chris Pronger, D

6'6, 220 pounds

2000 Hart Trophy Winner

2007 Stanley Cup Winner
2006, 2010 Stanley Cup Finalist
Arguably the best player on his team in all three Finals runs.

Team Impact
Chris Pronger has had a massive positive impact on every team he has played on.

St Louis: Pronger took a couple of years to come into his own. He did so with a vengeance in 1997-98, playing over 27 minutes per game with a plus-minus of +47. He starred for St. Louis until 2003-04. In the 2 seasons before Pronger’s prime, the regular season Pronger missed to injury, and the 2 seasons after Pronger left, St Louis had an average of 75 regulation points, made the playoffs 3 times, and won 1 playoff series. In the 6 prime regular seasons Pronger played in St Louis, they averaged 97 regulation points, made the playoffs 6 times, and won 5 playoff series.

Edmonton: During Pronger's one season in Edmonton, they went to game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals. Edmonton had not won a playoff series in the 7 years prior to that, and has not made the playoffs since.

Anaheim: In Pronger’s first season in Anaheim, they won the Stanley Cup. Anaheim averaged 101 points in the regular season with Pronger, and 94 points in the season before and after he left.

Philadelphia: Pronger has played one full season in Philadelphia. He led them to Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals.


Michael Farber, SI, 2000:
At 6'6" and 220 pounds, Pronger takes control of a game with his formidable strength and reach. The puck may enter the Blues' zone on an opponent's stick, but it most often comes out on Pronger's. He had been on the ice for a minuscule 43 even-strength goals-against this season, and he has helped hold the NHL's top five scorers—the Penguins' Jaromir Jagr, the Panthers' Pavel Bure, the Flyers' Mark Recchi, the Sharks' Owen Nolan and the Blackhawks' Tony Amonte—without an even-strength point in 14 games.
Michael Farber, SI, 2000:
"He plays 30 minutes a game, but I swear he could play 60," says defenseman Marc Bergevin, Pronger's penalty-killing partner. "Well come to the bench after a minute, minute-and-a-half shift, and I'll be puffing, and he'll take a drink of water, look around and be ready to go again."

Pronger has learned to husband his energy, joining the rush only when he sees an opening and using his King Kong-like reach to strip the puck from a forward who has somehow slithered past him. "Of course, he makes mistakes," Bergevin says. "About every 10 games he'll do something wrong."
Kostya Kennedy, SI, 2001:
The 6'6" Pronger, who has the certitude of a cop and the reach of a boardinghouse diner, is another of the accursed players whose size and skills are so manifest that his smarts haven't received sufficient credit. The Canucks' Burke, the general manager in Hartford when Pronger was drafted, says Pronger "reads the ice as well as any defenseman in the modern era." Invariably Pronger makes not only a good first pass but also the best first pass, the one that creates the most open ice. His and fellow defenseman Al MacInnis's ability to push the puck smartly makes St. Louis a formidable team in transition.

As Pronger moves the puck, he runs through a mental checklist of passing options, depending on the time and space available to him. Option 1 is the rare rinkwide bomb to a forward who's stretching the defense. Option 2, which is the primary pass for Pronger but one fraught with danger for almost everyone else, is the hard pass under coverage to a winger on the opposite side of the rink. Option 3 is throwing it back to the other defenseman, which is usually too static for his tastes. Options 4 and 5 are banging the puck off the boards or glass, generally safe plays. "Pronger can kill any forechecking scheme with that pass he makes to the offside winger," Blake says of Option 2. "That's dangerous unless you know you can make it, and he makes it every game. He beats two or three guys with that pass, and away the Blues go."
Michael Farber, SI, 2009:
Pronger is convinced that that unpredictability is almost as important a tool as his hockey smarts, his laser first passes and his heavy shot. "You might spear a guy in the face, fight a guy, elbow a guy, slash a guy or just make a clean bodycheck... If they don't know what I'm going to do, I hold the trump card," says Pronger, who signed a seven-year, $34.45 million extension with the Flyers after being traded from salary-cap-strapped Anaheim last June. "They're nervous Nellies. Maybe they'll move the puck a little too soon because they don't want to get slashed or speared again. I get people complaining in SI that I'm the dirtiest player in hockey"—he tied Dallas's Steve Ott for first place in a poll of 324 NHL players last season—"and people say, 'I can't believe you like that.' I tell 'em, 'Why wouldn't I?' Means I'm doing my job."
Barry Melrose:
Chris Pronger is going to go down as maybe one of the 10 best defensemen ever to play the game. He goes to Edmonton, they go to the finals. He goes to Anaheim, they win the Cup. He comes to Philly, they're in the finals. That's not by mistake, and he makes a living by shutting down not only the other team's best players but the best players in our game. And he's done that his whole career.
Doug Wilson:
There's no doubt (Pronger's) one of the top players in the game. He certainly makes everybody around him better. That's the measuring stick that I use for players.
Paul Holmgren:
I think he makes everyone around him better. He’s a winner, he’s won a championship. He’s a tremendous character player, he works hard. I wanted a guy who would make life miserable for the other team. Chris is one of those guys.
Sean O'Donnell:
There are times when you know your partner is in a tough spot. Sometimes I'll go, 'I wish he was over there right now because all I can really do is dump the puck over there.' Well, (Pronger)'s there. Little things like that. A guy's going wide, he's got a step on me. Next thing I know, who's there to cut him off?
Pronger and Lidstrom: 2 best defencemen of the decade

Chris Pronger and Nicklas Lidstrom have both been in their primes since 1997-98. Over this time, they have been by far the best two defencemen in the league.

Even Strength: Best Shutdown* Defencemen at Even Strength from 1998-2010
Chris Pronger 823 88 64 1.37 1.00 24 58%
Nicklas Lidstrom 961 99 70 1.42 1.09 20 59%
Wade Redden 912 87 68 1.29 1.08 12 40%
Bryan McCabe 904 83 74 1.12 0.99 10 42%
Keith Carney 756 73 65 1.13 0.97 11 46%
Scott Stevens 515 94 68 1.40 1.12 15 75%
Teppo Numminen 743 76 63 1.19 1.02 10 44%
$ESGF/S: On-ice even strength goals for per season, adjusted for scoring level.
$ESGA/S: On-ice even strength goals for per season, adjusted for scoring level.
R-ON: Even strength goal ratio with the player on the ice.
R-OFF: Even strength goal ratio with the player off the ice.
AEV+/-/S: Adjusted even strength plus-minus per season. Note that this and R-ON/OFF are affected by the role the player is used in, it's harder to do well in this when used in a defensive role.

Lidstrom and Pronger were far and away the class of the league at even strength, playing a lot of tough minutes and outscoring by a ton. I selected only defencemen with at least a 40% PK%, so we're comparing apples to apples. No offensive specialists here. And honestly, some of these guys weren't shutdown guys for much of this time.

Power Play
Player GP PP% TmPP+ $PPG $PPA $PPP
Sergei Gonchar 825 85% 1.10 10 29 38
Nicklas Lidstrom 961 77% 1.27 8 29 38
Sergei Zubov 761 84% 1.12 7 28 35
Chris Pronger 823 75% 1.18 7 27 35
Brian Leetch 556 83% 1.04 7 27 35
Kimmo Timonen 812 75% 1.00 6 24 30
PP%: Percentage of team's power play goals that the player was on the ice for.
TmPP+: Success of team's power play. 1.00 is average, higher is better. Includes shorthanded goals against.
$PPG/S: Power play goals per season, adjusted for scoring level and team PP opportunities.
$PPA/S: Power play assists per season, adjusted for scoring level and team PP opportunities.
$PPP/S: Power play points per season, adjusted for scoring level and team PP opportunities.

Pronger and Lidstrom have both been among the best power play defencemen in the past decade. Lidstrom has probably been a touch better, but he's had more talent to play with.

Penalty Kill
Player GP PK% TmPK+
Scott Stevens 515 75% 0.85
Richard Matvichuk 574 64% 0.83
Derian Hatcher 667 63% 0.85
Nicklas Lidstrom 961 59% 0.81
Chris Chelios 731 58% 0.85
Chris Pronger 823 58% 0.87
Adam Foote 749 57% 1.02
Mattias Norstrom 769 56% 1.02
Jason Blake 823 54% 0.93
Rob Blake 882 53% 1.01
Zdeno Chara 847 52% 0.96
PK%: Percentage of team's power play goals against that the player was on the ice for.
TmPK+: Success of team's penalty kill. 1.00 is average, lower is better. Includes shorthanded goals for.

Nobody has killed more penalties than Lidstrom and Pronger over the past decade. And both have done so for very successful penalty kills.

Pronger and Lidstrom have been the best defencemen in the league in every situation. Want to know the kicker? Only one other defenceman showed up in more than one of these lists. These two have been head and shoulders above the rest.

So why was Lidstrom taken at #12 and Pronger at #51? Right...durability. Over this time period, Lidstrom played 98% of his scheduled regular season games, and Pronger only played 84%. But at playoff time, Pronger and Lidstrom have each played all but three of their team games over this time, so don't overstate the difference here.

Since 1998, Chris Pronger leads all NHL defencemen with a +43 mark in the playoffs. Was it just his team? Not likely, since his teams have been -25 with him off the ice.

Nicklas Lidstrom is close behind Pronger, with a +38 mark over this time. When he's off the ice, his teams have been +48 in the playoffs.

Was Chris Pronger a Creation of Al MacInnis on the power play?
For Sturminator

Pronger played on the first unit power play with MacInnis from 1999 to 2002. From 2004 to 2010 he played on the first unit power play without MacInnis.

Player Years Seasons $PPG $PPA $PPP PP% TmPP+
Chris Pronger 1999-02 3.4 9 31 40 84% 1.24
Chris Pronger 2004-10 5.6 8 29 37 79% 1.14

Pronger's teams were better with MacInnis than without - although still well above average post-MacInnis. Pronger's individual scoring numbers were slightly better with MacInnis than without, but still very good without him.

No, Pronger was not a creation of Al MacInnis on the power play.

Last edited by overpass: 03-22-2011 at 05:54 PM.
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