The Mighty Ducks traded forward Vaclav Prospal to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday, shedding more salary by ridding themselves of one of last season's marquee disappointments.
The Ducks received a second-round draft pick in 2005 from the Lightning, but they also jettisoned Prospal's contract to help adhere to Walt Disney Co. demands to reduce the payroll by about $10 million. The trade represents the most significant move by interim General Manager Al Coates to cut what was a $54-million payroll at the end of last season.
That slashing, plus the continuing collective bargaining negotiations, have handcuffed Coates. The Ducks have not signed a free agent in a market plump with teams taking a conservative approach because of the possibility of a lockout.
Officials from the NHL and players' association will meet today in New York to try to advance negotiations stalled since last fall over the league's desired cost certainty, which union officials equate to a salary cap.
Prospal is owed $10 million from a five-year, $16.5-million contract. He returns to Tampa Bay, where he played two seasons and had a career-high 79 points in 2002-03.
The Ducks billed Prospal as a significant upgrade when he signed last summer, but he finished with 19 goals and 54 points, much of that production coming after the Ducks were out of the playoff race. He had six goals and 21 points in the first 47 games.
-- Chris Foster