SUNRISE, Fla. - Flyers general manager Ron Hextall made a trade Saturday for a player he's not sure he will keep, and he sent defenseman Chris Pronger - who is currently employed by the NHL's player-safety department - to Arizona as part of the deal.
Yes, it was one of the most bizarre trades in Flyers history.
The Flyers acquired Sam Gagner, a center who has not lived up to the expectations created by his being drafted sixth overall in 2007, and a conditional draft pick from Arizona for defenseman Nick Grossmann and Pronger's contract.
The Flyers will receive either a fourth-round pick next year or a third-rounder in 2017. Arizona has the option, Hextall said.
For the Flyers, the deal appears to be more about money than players.
The much-traveled Gagner, 25, had 15 goals and 41 points last season. If they keep him, the Flyers would absorb a $3.3 million cap hit, but there is a chance the team will buy out his contract.
Hextall said he will have meetings with his pro scouts Monday and Tuesday and will decide whether to keep Gagner.
"We've got to get our numbers in order. Our cap is still not totally cleaned up, but we're a lot closer now," Hextall said.
The Flyers gained about $5.1 million in cap space with the deal, assuming they keep Gagner. Grossmann's cap hit is $3.5 million, and Pronger's is $4.9 million. (Arizona will pay the final two years on Pronger's contract, totaling $1,000,050.)
The Flyers, however, had been getting relief from Pronger's cap hit when he was placed on the long-term injured list. His career ended in 2011 because of a concussion.
Hextall called Gagner a player who has had "some inconsistencies in his play over the years, but brings a high level of skill."
Arizona GM Don Maloney was blunt about Gagner.
"We didn't think he could play center at the National Hockey League level for us," he said.
Grossmann, 30, a stay-at-home defenseman, was a "hard guy to trade," Hextall said. "He's a warrior, he plays hurt, and he plays hard every night."
The Flyers will reportedly pay $500,000 of Grossmann's salary. The 6-foot-4, 230-pounder will be reunited with Arizona coach Dave Tippett, who had him when he coached Dallas.
The Flyers have about $64.6 million committed to the cap for next season, and they still need to sign restricted free agent Michael Del Zotto and a backup goalie. They also may re-sign unrestricted free agents Ryan White and Chris VandeVelde.
The cap maximum is $71.4 million, and teams can exceed it by 10 percent in the summer.
"Make no mistake, we're still up against it," Hextall said. "This doesn't get us out of the problems, but we're closer, and we'll see what we can do moving forward."
Breakaways. The Flyers will name Kim Dillabough their goalie coach this week. He is Los Angeles' roving goalie instructor . . . Defenseman Andong "Misha" Song of the Lawrenceville (N.J.) School became the first China-born player selected in the NHL draft. The Islanders chose him in the sixth round (172d overall) Saturday. . . . Flyers draftee Travis Konecny was the winner of the inaugural E.J. McGuire Award, given to a draft-eligible prospect based on his character, competitiveness, and athleticism.