The NHL season wouldn’t be the same without rumors of one or more major talents being shuffled across the map. A lot of the speculation has centered on one Jarome Iginla the last three or four years. They chaos that has been the front office of the team for much of the last decade has virtually sealed the deal on him winning a Stanley Cup with Flames. Certainly it is hard to imagine him doing it before his current contract is over, and possibly ever. He’s still playing smart, tough, effective hockey as he closes in on his 35th birthday it is hard to imagine him being the cornerstone of a cup win three or four years from now.
Among the concerns for Iginla about leaving the only city he’s ever played in is how much it will damage his legacy. I’m not convinced that is as valid a concern as it might once have been so long as he doesn’t go to Edmonton or perhaps Vancouver. If the team plays it right, and gets a solid return on him, and he’s willing to go back after his current contract there’s no reason he can’t still win a cup there with some better complimentary players, if the front office can do their jobs right.
The perfect team to me for Iginla to land on before the deadline is; The Minnesota Wild. They have a real lack of scoring that will not get them far in the playoffs. They have a solid prospect pool. They are reasonably close to Iginla who is loathe to leave his family. St Paul isn’t exactly next door, but it is far closer than going to one of the New York Area teams, Boston or even to the Panthers. The Wild have almost eight million in cap space this year. Also to be considered is the reputation of the Wild for smart defense, but not having the ponies to flourish offensively. Adding Iginla to a lineup with Heatley and Setogouchi gives the team the ability to easily roll two lines in the top ten in the NHL for quality.
Then too there is the question of attitude. Jarome Iginla may be better known for his goal scoring than his punch throwing but I defy any informed NHL observer to apply the word “soft” to any part of Ignila or his game aside from his hands. Those hands have turned to pummeling opponents on no few occasions. More importantly no one pushes him around. The same can’t be said for the Wild. I’m not sure one could get away with the Marchand on Sedin speed bagging witnessed in the playoffs, but no one has gets the cold shivers at the thought of an infuriated Wild roster. I’m not even sure anyone has seen this current roster infuriated.
For the Wild, adding toughness and skill in one package can’t be dismissed out of hand. To do so with a guy who is undeniably hungry would be huge. They’ve already had a very good opportunity to review much of their farm system at the NHL level thanks to a rash of injuries. Regardless of who or what they trade to Calgary in exchange for Iginla with realignment looming those players will only have two chances a season to come back to haunt the team.
For Calgary the value of a year or two landing in the lottery and drafting quality picks in the first and second rounds to build for the future can’t be understated. It doesn’t matter where Iginla goes if he does get traded, the Flames have to have a plan for winning without him. A return that brought back Coyle or Granland and picks would kickstart the rebuild faster than almost anything. Coyle is arguably NHL ready now, a draft pick that turned into a first line center would be enormous.
Realistically, if all parties do things well this is a situation where everyone can have their cake and eat it too.