With the word that four teams are deemed as suitable destinations for Calgary Flames free-agent-to-be right winger Jarome Iginla, here is a look at Iginla's value and what that could mean for each of the teams named.
For starters, Iginla is a 35-year-old winger who has scored 525 goals and 1095 points in 1218 career games (plus 28 goals and 49 points in 54 career playoff games), but his production is down this year. Through 31 games, Iginla has nine goals and 22 points with 100 shots on goal and a minus-7 rating, playing 19:18 per game.
Iginla's goal total is lower than usual thanks to his shooting percentage (9.0%), his lowest since his second year in the league, 1997-98. While his shots per game (3.23) is down from his peak years, it matches up well with two of the past three seasons and those were years in which Iginla finished with 32 goals, so it's not unreasonable to position him as a player that could still be capable of production along those lines.
When it comes to advanced stats, Iginla comes across as relatively unlucky this season, at both ends of the rink. That doesn't mean he's still the same old Iggy, rather he's a 35-year-old winger with a long track record of being able to put the puck in the net and, even if he's lost a step, he's generating enough shots on a consistent basis to believe that he could still be a valuable offensive contributor on another club.
The reported asking price for Iginla right now is two prospects (one top tier, one lesser) and a pick. Let's assume that the pick is a first-rounder, though I suppose that could fluctuate given the quality of prospects offered.
A look, then, at the four teams involved and who might meet the reported asking price:
Boston Bruins - The Bruins have been looking for an upgrade to their forwards for some time and Iginla would certainly give them another scoring option. GM Peter Chiarelli is adamant that goaltending prospect Malcolm Subban is staying put, but could two of Jordan Caron, Ryan Spooner, Alexander Khochlachev, Torey Krug, Anthony Camara, Craig Cunningham, Jared Knight plus a pick get it done? Spooner is probably another prospect that might require the Bruins to swallow hard before pulling the trigger.
Chicago Blackhawks - Even if we can make some assumptions that the Blackhawks wouldn't want to give up a kid already skating on their top line, like Brandon Saad, Chicago has plenty of prospects to offer. Centres Teuvo Teravainen, Phillip Danault, Mark McNeill and Brandon Pirri top the list; wingers Jeremy Morin and Jimmy Hayes could have some appeal and defencemen Adam Clendening, Dylan Olsen or Stephen Johns could be included. Somewhere, in that group, there should be a couple of players to agree upon. How about McNeill, Olsen and a first-round pick?
Los Angeles Kings - The defending champions don't seem to have an urgency to land Iginla, though that is admittedly the best position from which to negotiate. Head coach Darryl Sutter is obviously familiar with Iginla's work from his time in Calgary, so perhaps the Kings could fill a spot on the wing with Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, if either Carter or Iginla are willing to take the left side. Recently-promoted rookie Tyler Toffoli has seen some time with Richards and Carter already and, like other probable untouchables for the other teams mentioned, isn't likely to be included in a Los Angeles offer. After that, though, forwards Tanner Pearson, Linden Vey, Nick Shore, goaltender Martin Jones and defencemen Derek Forbort, Colin Miller or Nick Gravel could all be part of an offer.
Pittsburgh Penguins - After acquiring Brenden Morrow and Douglas Murray, the Pittsburgh Penguins may not be quite as desperate to add Iginla, but if the price is right, his offensive ability could help put them over the top in their bid for the Cup. Winger Beau Bennett seems like he's fitting in with the Penguins already, so he could be harder to pry away, but there are still a number of defence prospects including Simon Despres, Derrick Pouliot, Olli Maatta, Brian Dumoulin, Scott Harrington, Philip Samuelsson or Robert Bortuzzo could help form the cornerstone of a deal. Forward prospects, aside from Bennett, aren't as appealing, but perhaps collegiate prospect Kenneth Agostino (96 points in 97 career games at Yale) or Tom Kuehnhackl would be viable for inclusion.
Conclusion: It really does seem possible that Iginla actually could move after 16 seasons in Calgary, especially when he talks about it being settled in the next five to six days.
While there have been rumblings that the Flames' asking price is too much, it doesn't seem out of line with prices paid for rental players at previous trade deadlines. Some examples (including names of notable draft picks) from www.nhltradetracker.com, since 2006:
2011 - Toronto acquired C Joe Colborne, a 2011 first-round pick (Rickard Rakell) and a conditional second-round pick in 2012 from Boston for D Tomas Kaberle.
2010 - Atlanta acquired RW Niclas Bergfors, C Patrice Cormier, D Johnny Oduya, a first-round pick (Kevin Hayes) and second-round pick from New Jersey for LW Ilya Kovalchuk, D Anssi Salmela and a second-round pick (Jonathon Merrill).
2009 - Phoenix acquired C Matthew Lombardi, LW Brandon Prust and a first-round pick (Brandon Gormley) from Calgary for C Olli Jokinen and a third-round pick.
2008 - Columbus acquired conditional first (Luca Sbisa) and fourth-round (David Savard) picks from Colorado for D Adam Foote.
2008 - Buffalo acquired RW Steve Bernier and a first-round pick (Tyler Ennis) from San Jose for D Brian Campbell and a seventh-round pick.
2008 - Atlanta acquired RW Colby Armstrong, C Erik Christensen, C Angelo Esposito and a first-round pick from Pittsburgh for RW Marian Hossa and LW Pascal Dupuis.
2007 - Edmonton acquired LW Robert Nilsson, C Ryan O'Marra and a first-round pick from the N.Y. Islanders for LW Ryan Smyth.
2007 - Florida acquired C Shawn Matthias and conditional second-round picks in 2007 (Nick Spaling) and 2008 from Detroit for RW Todd Bertuzzi.
2007 - St. Louis acquired RW Ville Nieminen, RW Jay Barriball and a first-round pick (LW David Perron) from San Jose for RW Bill Guerin.
2007 - St. Louis acquired C Glen Metropolit, first (Mikael Backlund) and third-round picks in 2007 as well as a second-round pick in 2008 and a conditional first-round pick in 2008 from Atlanta for LW Keith Tkachuk.
2007 - Philadelphia acquired D Ryan Parent, RW Scottie Upshall, a first-round (Jonathon Blum) and third-round pick from Nashville for C Peter Forsberg.
2006 - Boston acquired C Marty Reasoner, C Yan Stastny and a second-round pick (LW Milan Lucic) from Edmonton for LW Sergei Samsonov.
2006 - Pittsburgh acquired C Krys Kolanos, LW Niklas Nordgren and a second-round pick from Carolina for RW Mark Recchi.
2006 - St. Louis acquired RW Jesse Boulerice, C Mike Zigomanis, LW Magnus Kahnberg, a first-round pick and fourth-round pick in 2006 and fourth-round pick in 2007) from Carolina for C Doug Weight and LW Erkki Rajamaki.
The number of high-profile rentals has gone down in the last few seasons but, given these returns, is it really unreasonable to ask for two prospects and a pick for Iginla? Admittedly, his no-movement clause and a list of approved destinations isn't going to maximize the return, but as long as there is more than one suitor, the price should be competitive.
If the Flames can get a compelling offer for Iginla, then it will be time to rebuild in earnest, meaning more veterans could be on the move as Calgary finally tries to stockpile young talent. Better late than never, some will say, but it's never easy to part ways with the player that has been the face of the franchise for a generation of fans. Just as it won't be easy for Iginla to move on from the only NHL team he's ever played for, if that's the path that is ultimately chosen.
Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.