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Numbers Game: Avalanche sign Iginla

Scott Cullen
7/4/2014 9:17:25 AM
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The Colorado Avalanche may have lost one of the premier free agents, centre Paul Stastny, but recovered somewhat by bringing in the top free agent goal-scorer.

Numbers Game looks into the deal for Jarome Iginla

The Avalanche Get: RW Jarome Iginla.

Iginla, 37, scored 30 goals last season, just like he has in every full season since 2000-2001, while playing for the Boston Bruins. The Bruins ran into cap issues that squeezed Iginla out of their plans and opened the door for the Avalanche to improve their forward ranks.

Sure, at his age, Iginla has probably lost a step (his 2.68 shots on goal per game last season was his lowest since 1998-1999), but over the past six seasons, he ranks seventh in goals, with 186. He can pull the trigger and that's largely what the Avalanche will need from him.

Colorado has lots of young talent up front, guys that the can skate the puck into the offensive zone and it would easy enough to fit Iginla on a line with rising star Nathan MacKinnon and veteran Alex Tanguay, with whom Iginla shared some productive years in Calgary.

The issue for the Avalanche is how rapid Iginla's descent might be. He's been unbelievably durable throughout his career, missing eight games in the past two seasons following five straight seasons without missing a game. But, once more than 1300 NHL games are on the odometer, it's difficult to maintain production and it's already begun with Iginla, who has averaged under 0.80 points per game in each of the past two years for the first time since 1998-1999. It's evident how this career arc is playing out.

With 560 career goals, Iginla ranks second among active skaters, behind only Jaromir Jagr now that Teemu Selanne has retired. But, for all the great goal-scorers that have played at age 37 and beyond, it's rare to keep scoring 30 goals per season. Since 2000, there have been five forwards, aged 37 or older, to score 30 goals in a season. They're Hall of Fame calibre players, like Iginla, so maybe he can get there at least once during the life of this contract, but the odds are that Iginla is going to start falling between 20 and 30 goals because as players get older, even for the great ones, it's not as easy to get to the net.

Without much room to maneuver under the salary cap, the Bruins may have to look internally to fill the void created by Iginla's departure. Loui Eriksson could move up to join David Krejci and Milan Lucic on the top line and prospects Ryan Spooner and Alexander Khokhlachev are likely to have opportunities to make the team next year.

As long as he doesn't drop too precipitously, Iginla can still provide value on the three-year, $16-million contract he received from Colorado, but it's likely to be in more of a supporting role because while every career isn't the same, all athletes eventually diminish with age and the Avalanche are looking at those years with Iginla.

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.




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