Jarome Iginla Now and Going Forward

Kent Wilson
August 20 2012 12:11PM

 

 

During the weekend open thread, I asked everyone to envision what the team might look like in 3 years absent many of the longtime mainstays like Jarome Iginla and Miikka Kiprusoff. The question of Iginla's future with the club will continue to grow as the year progresses and we near the completion of his current contract.

No doubt a large contingent of the fan base will agitate to re-sign Iggy sooner rather than later and for whatever it is he wants to get paid - he is, after all, the face of the franchise and the best forward to ever lace up the skates for the Calgary Flames. Jarome has been the guy around which the franchise has has built in earnest since he was 19 years old and the club's leading scorer for a decade. For many, the thought of a Calgary Flames team lacking Jarome is therefore abominable.

I have been unhappily battling against this sentiment for a couple of summers now. In 2010, I wrote about Iginla's decline. Last summer, I put together a three part series detailing his continued struggles, while they are inevitable and what the franchise should think to do about it.

Let's put aside for a moment the fact that Iginla leaving the Flames some day is inetivable: either because he signs elsewhere or retires. No one plays forever. For the purposes of this excercise, we'll assume the team has the option to re-sign their captain in perpetuity, until his legs fall off or the owners finally lock-out the players forever. The question is - should the team re-sign Iginla? And if so, for how much?

Before we proceed let me note at the outset that this is not an exercise in "hate" nor an attempt to punitively run the captain out of town. Iginla is one of my favorite athletes of all time. I consider myself lucky to have witnessed his incredible career here in Calgary.

This is simply my attempt to analyze and answer a couple of questions as ruthlessly and honestly as possible:

1.) How good a player is Iginla now?

2.) And how good is he likely to be near in the future?

Given the state of the team and the impending end of Iginla's current deal, these are the essential issues management needs to wrestle with. Jarome's storied past and wealth of accomplishments are fixed and unchanging going forwarded - to be celebrated and respected, for sure - but they aren't necessarily indicators of the quality of player he is currently or will be a few years down the road.

Iginla WOWY

"WOWY" or With or Without You is a useful statistical tool for teasing apart the effect one player is having on his linemates. Thanks to David Johnson's Hockey Analysis site, this inquiry is easier to do than ever. I have filtered the results from the link a bit to clarify things:

    With Iginla             Without Iginla        
Player TOI CF CF/20 CA CA/20 CF%   TOI CF CF/20 CA CA/20 CF%
OLLI JOKINEN 645:16:00 520 16.117 675 20.922 0.435   518:50:00 458 17.655 492 18.966 0.482
JAY BOUWMEESTER 621:50:00 486 15.631 692 22.257 0.413   932:58:00 781 16.742 804 17.235 0.493
ALEX TANGUAY 574:28:00 507 17.651 613 21.342 0.453   284:41:00 217 15.245 254 17.844 0.461
CHRIS BUTLER 477:43:00 380 15.909 530 22.189 0.418   713:47:00 633 17.736 645 18.073 0.495
CURTIS GLENCROSS 423:33:00 338 15.96 434 20.493 0.438   448:02:00 396 17.677 428 19.106 0.481
SCOTT HANNAN 408:36:00 321 15.712 449 21.977 0.417   883:07:00 693 15.694 811 18.367 0.461
MARK GIORDANO 341:36:00 283 16.569 351 20.55 0.446   657:13:00 580 17.65 591 17.985 0.495
CORY SARICH 254:32:00 221 17.365 199 15.636 0.526   654:06:00 557 17.031 541 16.542 0.507
DEREK SMITH 196:13:00 186 18.959 204 20.793 0.477   456:37:00 365 15.987 401 17.564 0.477
MIKE CAMMALLERI 184:24:00 166 18.004 187 20.282 0.47   706:15:00 588 16.651 669 18.945 0.468
TJ BRODIE 181:20:00 159 17.537 144 15.882 0.525   586:35:00 506 17.252 480 16.366 0.513
MIKAEL BACKLUND 175:48:00 167 18.999 177 20.137 0.485   350:58:00 313 17.836 290 16.526 0.519
MATT STAJAN 167:49:00 150 17.877 158 18.83 0.487   517:29:00 454 17.546 443 17.121 0.506

The table shows anyone on the Flames who played 100+ minutes with Iginla last year. On the left, we have shot/corsi results when both players were on the ice together. The right hand side shows how each guy did without Jarome. I have added bold and italics to each player whose outshooting improved sans Iginla.

The ratios (CF%) are the total shots for/against at even strength, an expression of puck possession in the offensive zone. In the NHL, 0.50 is about average and typically the minimum for what every coach shoots for when he is matching lines and setting his roster. It means his line is giving as good as it getting at 5on5.

Nine of Iginla's 13 more regular linemates improved when apart from him - some of them significantly. Jay Bouwmeester and Chris Butler went from getting their heads beat in (41.8% and 43.5%), to nearly treading water (48.2% and 49.5%).

Only two players of the 13 actually saw their numbers go up when skating with Iggy: Corey Sarich and TJ Brodie. We can assume that is an effect of competition quality and zone starts since Sarich and Brodie were mostly third pairing/bottom of the rotation options for Brent Sutter last year. It's a fair bet during those minutes that Iginla was facing nobodies and probably starting more often in the offensive zone as a result.

To be fair to the captain, there's no doubt he saw some of the heavisest sledding last year and playing with him meant seeing the other team's best players. You can bet that accounts for at least some of the improvement for guys like Backlund and Stajan who were probably playing against some lesser lights when not skating with Iginla.

That said, even all the regular high-end duties guys saw their shots ratios go down with Jarome. Glencross and Jokinen were consistently matched against other team's good players both with and without Iggy and their ratios went up in his absence. Ditto Bouwmeester and Butler.

Also distubring isn't just the general shift towards better results without the captain, but the fact with him on the ice the club's possession consistently sits below that mediocre 50% mark. A fifty/fifty split in possession isn't even in the "good" territory when it comes to controlling play as a forward. Anything around 45% or lower means the team is losing the territorial battle handily with said player on the ice.

Iginla Versus The Big Guns

Hockey Analysis also allows us to see how Iginla fared against other skaters in the league. This sort of inquiry will give us an indication how the Flames controlled play against specfic competition when Jarome was one the ice last year.

The following table contains the 29 skaters against whom Iginla spent at least 30 minutes of ice time against in 2012-13:

Player TOI CF CA differential CF%
MARC-EDOUARD VLASIC 48:06:00 41 48 -7 0.461
NIKITA NIKITIN 47:38:00 31 39 -8 0.443
STEPHANE ROBIDAS 47:36:00 45 46 -1 0.495
LADISLAV SMID 47:22:00 41 52 -11 0.441
DANY HEATLEY 44:30:00 48 47 1 0.505
OLIVER EKMAN-LARSSON 44:01:00 22 49 -27 0.31
DREW DOUGHTY 43:54:00 27 53 -26 0.338
RYAN SUTER 42:49:00 42 43 -1 0.494
ROB SCUDERI 42:48:00 26 47 -21 0.356
DAN HAMHUIS 41:05:00 32 36 -4 0.471
RYAN O'REILLY 40:46:00 30 39 -9 0.435
IAN WHITE 40:30:00 29 46 -17 0.387
NICKLAS LIDSTROM 38:58:00 29 47 -18 0.382
GABRIEL LANDESKOG 38:50:00 34 40 -6 0.459
JEFF PETRY 38:13:00 28 47 -19 0.373
DEVIN SETOGUCHI 37:38:00 33 42 -9 0.44
JAN HEJDA 36:39:00 34 34 0 0.5
DAVID BACKES 36:24:00 25 46 -21 0.352
MATT CULLEN 36:01:00 32 37 -5 0.464
ALEX PIETRANGELO 36:00:00 19 40 -21 0.322
KEVIN BIEKSA 35:37:00 28 35 -7 0.444
MARCO SCANDELLA 35:12:00 38 29 9 0.567
RAY WHITNEY 34:53:00 14 42 -28 0.25
SAM GAGNER 34:53:00 27 40 -13 0.403
TOM GILBERT 33:55:00 29 37 -8 0.439
RYAN O'BYRNE 33:45:00 29 27 2 0.518
JARED SPURGEON 33:42:00 45 27 18 0.625
HENRIK SEDIN 33:41:00 18 32 -14 0.36
DANIEL WINNIK 33:37:00 17 31 -14 0.354
FRANCOIS BEAUCHEMIN 33:24:00 23 32 -9 0.418
DUNCAN KEITH 33:19:00 34 38 -4 0.472
NIKLAS BACKSTROM 33:18:00 29 30 -1 0.492
SHAWN HORCOFF 33:10:00 20 38 -18 0.345
PATRICK MARLEAU 33:04:00 27 36 -9 0.429
ANZE KOPITAR 32:07:00 22 41 -19 0.349
MICHAL ROZSIVAL 32:04:00 15 45 -30 0.25
DAN BOYLE 31:58:00 25 27 -2 0.481
RYAN SMYTH 31:20:00 18 36 -18 0.333
JORDAN EBERLE 31:20:00 29 34 -5 0.46
TJ OSHIE 31:00:00 22 29 -7 0.431
ANTOINE VERMETTE 30:54:00 22 24 -2 0.478
ALEX BURROWS 30:45:00 14 33 -19 0.298
DUSTIN BROWN 30:29:00 22 40 -18 0.355
FEDOR TYUTIN 30:29:00 16 27 -11 0.372
BOBBY RYAN 30:27:00 14 35 -21 0.286
NICK SCHULTZ 30:22:00 30 25 5 0.545
JUSTIN WILLIAMS 30:07:00 18 39 -21 0.316
Total   1293 1787 -494 0.420

It's a long list with a lot of good players on it. Only in four cases (highlighted above) did Iginla come out on top of the total shots ratio: Marco Scandella, Jared Spurgeon, Nick Shultz, Dany Heatley. Not coincidentally, all four of those guys are Minnesota Wild, one of the very worst teams in the league last year at controlling play.

At the bottom, I have totaled the Flames total shots for and against at even strength for this sample. It show that the team was nearly 500 shots (!) in the red with Iginla skating against this collection of other team's top-end skaters.

In other words, Calgary managed just 42% of the total shots with Iggy on the ice against these folks. He was especially dominated by guys like David Backes (35.2%), Sam Gagner (40.3%), Henrik Sedin (36.0%), Anze Kopitar (34.9%), Dustin Brown (35.5%), Ryan Smith (33.3%), Bobby Ryan (28.6%) and even Daniel Winnik (35.4%).

To make things a little more explicit, I pulled out the various defenders and put together the list of opposition forwards:

Player TOI CF CA differential CF%
DANY HEATLEY 44:30:00 48 47 1 0.505
RYAN O'REILLY 40:46:00 30 39 -9 0.435
GABRIEL LANDESKOG 38:50:00 34 40 -6 0.459
DEVIN SETOGUCHI 37:38:00 33 42 -9 0.44
DAVID BACKES 36:24:00 25 46 -21 0.352
MATT CULLEN 36:01:00 32 37 -5 0.464
RAY WHITNEY 34:53:00 14 42 -28 0.25
SAM GAGNER 34:53:00 27 40 -13 0.403
HENRIK SEDIN 33:41:00 18 32 -14 0.36
DANIEL WINNIK 33:37:00 17 31 -14 0.354
SHAWN HORCOFF 33:10:00 20 38 -18 0.345
PATRICK MARLEAU 33:04:00 27 36 -9 0.429
ANZE KOPITAR 32:07:00 22 41 -19 0.349
RYAN SMYTH 31:20:00 18 36 -18 0.333
JORDAN EBERLE 31:20:00 29 34 -5 0.46
TJ OSHIE 31:00:00 22 29 -7 0.431
ANTOINE VERMETTE 30:54:00 22 24 -2 0.478
ALEX BURROWS 30:45:00 14 33 -19 0.298
DUSTIN BROWN 30:29:00 22 40 -18 0.355
BOBBY RYAN 30:27:00 14 35 -21 0.286
JUSTIN WILLIAMS 30:07:00 18 39 -21 0.316
 Total   506 781 -275 0.393

That cuts us down to 21 names and the list of guys Iginla was in the black against to just Dany Heatley (by a single shot). In sum, this group outshot Jarome by over 275 shots on net and controlled the puck over 60% of the time at even strength against him. 

That's a very steep hill to climb for the Flames and is particularly noteworthy because it's not like they are yielding ground to the Johnny Stonehands of the world in this sample. Many of these guys are the best players on their respective teams, meaning the oppositions top-end is spending a lot more time at the Flames end of the ice when they are matched against Iginla these days

Implications

This is all very much in line with the decline in Iginla's general effectiveness which I began to chart in 2010. A couple of seasons ago, he was merely average at controlling play and lagged behind many of his peers in terms of stature and pay across the league. Now, Iginla has entered liability territory at even strength - he consitently yields shots and possession against while he's on the ice and almost universally pulls down his linemates ability to control play as well.

No doubt some will ask what the value of a shot/possssion based inquiry is when Jarome is still scoring 30+ goals and 60+ points per year. I'll respond with a metaphor -

When a coach gives a player ice time, it is essentially an "invesment" in the player. The potential profit is shots/chances/goals for. The potential expense is shots/chances/goals against. The goal is to have the profit margin exceed the expenses as often as possible and in aggregate.

There are some factors that can help overcome a negative shot differential so that the most important line item - "goals" - remains in the black. Specifically, high SH% and SV% can help mititgate possession issues. Of course, skaters only exert modest influence over those things and they are mostly swamped by issues of randomness and variance.

Meaning - to overcome Jarome's issues of volume (shots/chances against) Calgary will need to control the frequency of goals (the percentages) to a non-trivial degree ir order to come out even or above water. And even though Alex Tanguay is one of the few skaters who can probably amp his linemates shooting by about 1% above normal, the truth is it would take a season of extraordinary luck (well above average percentages) for Iginla's ice time not to cost the club dearly in terms of goal differential.

To get back to the inital question - Iginla can likely continue to put up 30+ goals and 60+ points in the next few years if the team keeps giving him a lot of ice time. The issue is, Jarome's an asset now in the red; his ice time (and therefore production) costs the team shots, possession, chances and goals against. And it will likely continue to do so more and more now that he has crested 35 years old.

Conclusion

None of this means Iginla is worthless and must be immediately sent to the glue factory. He's iconic in the city and invaluable to the Flames marketing department. He carries a lot of weight and respect with other players and youngsters. He is highly competitive and still has a great release and shot, so is dangerous in particular circumstances. As a third line, PP option Jarome would probably still be a boon to most clubs in the NHL. 

What it does mean is simply that Iginla isn't the player he was when he was 28. It means the team can't continue to deploy him as a top-line, power vs power option and pretend it's making a meaningful dash for the post-season. And in evaluating the club's needs and his upcoming free agency, the Flames have to properly assess where Jarome is in his career, how he is likely to continue to age and decline and weigh that accordingly with potential trade options or salary demands.

39d8109299a9795cb3b41a4e9b49d501
Former Nations Overlord. Current FN contributor and curmudgeon For questions, complaints, criticisms, etc contact Kent @ kent.wilson@gmail. Follow him on Twitter here.
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#1 DeluxeMoustache
August 20 2012, 07:24PM
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This argument is taking data from a single year where the team as a whole was lousy. If you insist on claiming a single data point as a trend, so be it. But please don't ignore the fact that 2010-11 is conveniently neglected.

http://stats.hockeyanalysis.com/showplayer.php?pid=347&withagainst=true&season=2010-11&sit=5v5&type=corsi

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#2 Ryan Pike
August 20 2012, 12:27PM
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Third line Iginla could be excellent. But who's the first-line right wing?

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#3 Domebeers.com
August 20 2012, 12:27PM
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Performance metrics? Why Kent?

Jersey sales, his ability to schmooze with season ticket owners, his ability to drive season ticket sales, and his ability to sell a new arena to taxpayers are all more important metrics to the Flames front office than these 'performance' based ones.

You nailed it at the end. Iggy is still on the team so that ownership can "pretend it's making a meaningful dash for the post-season."

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#5 Bean-counting cowboy
August 20 2012, 12:50PM
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So if ownership (leave Feaster out of this - who are we kidding, he has no say in the Iggy decision) re-ups Iggy to a 4 year deal worth 7 + million, what's the over/under on how long it takes the die-hard Iggy fans to realize what a mistake that was?

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#6 Michael
August 20 2012, 12:55PM
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Feaster has made it quite clear that the Flames (read the owners) want Iggy to retire in a Flames jersey. More than likely, the Flames will offer Iggy a front loaded four year contract for far more than his stats / ability to help the team would dictate. A golden retirement contract in the $7 - 7 - 3 - 3 million range, say $20 million over four years.

Whether we should resign Iggy is another question, I would have traded him two or years ago for the 'next Iggy', but the owners seem determined, so unless Iggy wants to go to a contender, he retires a (well paid) Flame, and maybe, a well paid member of the Flames staff.

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#7 Ryan Popilchak
August 20 2012, 12:56PM
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Good god. I knew he was getting worse, but this is downright depressing.

At this point, I'd put him with Sven and Backlund and give them the same treatment the Oilers gave their young guys. Actually, that's probably not fair to Backlund's value as a possession guy, but you get my point.

Iggy will have to be sheltered in a big way and given Kovalchuk-level PP time to be worth his salary.

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#8 mattyc
August 20 2012, 01:14PM
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@Kent Wilson

Kent, How dare you mention Iginla and the glue factory in the same sentence.

Re: WOWY analysis. I think you touched on this a little bit, but I think it's important to consider that Iginla still has a mantra (whether it's true or not) of being the big dog on the Flames, and therefore pretty much everybody puts their best possession players out against him to shut him down. You can even see it in your 'opposition list', where it's the Backes', Marleau's, Kopitar's of the world who are getting the most time against Iginla. It would only make sense that when Jokinen and Bouwmeester and Butler are out there with them they do worse as well. No one is consistently making an effort to match up their big guys against Jokinen if Iginla's on another line.

Also, i think it's fair to say Iginla isn't a elite player anymore, but I have trouble believing he isn't even a top 6 forward anymore. Maybe in a couple years that will change, but I can't think of any teams in the league where he wouldn't be in the top half of the forward ranks.

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#9 Alt
August 20 2012, 01:14PM
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Domebeers.com wrote:

Performance metrics? Why Kent?

Jersey sales, his ability to schmooze with season ticket owners, his ability to drive season ticket sales, and his ability to sell a new arena to taxpayers are all more important metrics to the Flames front office than these 'performance' based ones.

You nailed it at the end. Iggy is still on the team so that ownership can "pretend it's making a meaningful dash for the post-season."

BINGO

They don,t come much more marketable than Jarome,and this team is all about the overall value of this team.Who and what this team is ,is secondary.

I have enjoyed watching Iginla over the years,espicially in 04 when he dominated games against Vancouver and Detroit.IMO the fans would be fine if we traded Iginla but only if he asked to be traded.That may be the dillema

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#10 MC Hockey
August 20 2012, 01:16PM
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Funny timing! I just commented on Iggy being a "first line power versus power" guy in the Glencross article...that assumed GlenX and Backlund were his linemates but not sure they can prop him up that much after reading the above unless he has another season like he did when he was robbed of the Hart trophy by Theodore years ago. Perhaps the same 3 guys on the 3rd line and Iggy featured on the PP does make more sense. If so, here's my projected lines with projected average time-on-ice for each line:

LW-C-RW-Line's Average Time-on-Ice

1st line: Tangs-Cammalleri-Hudler-18:00 2nd line: Baertschi-Cervenka-Stempniak-17:00 3rd line: Glencross-Backlund-Iginla-16:00 including lots of PP time for Iggy 4th line: Stajan or Bouma or Comeau-Jones-Jackman-9:00

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#11 suba steve
August 20 2012, 01:18PM
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Ryan Popilchak wrote:

Good god. I knew he was getting worse, but this is downright depressing.

At this point, I'd put him with Sven and Backlund and give them the same treatment the Oilers gave their young guys. Actually, that's probably not fair to Backlund's value as a possession guy, but you get my point.

Iggy will have to be sheltered in a big way and given Kovalchuk-level PP time to be worth his salary.

I kinda like this option.

a)May light a fire under Iggy by playing him with Sven.

b)How cool would that be for Sven, and Backlund too--playing with a future Hall of Famer.

If they are given shelter, would this work?

The option I would really favor would be a full rebuild, but it does seem unlikely that Iggy will be traded. So I'd offer up 3 years 4.5 mil/yr (in actual dollars, ie. after the new CBA is in place).

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#12 Kevin R
August 20 2012, 01:19PM
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Well, as fantastic of an article this was Kent, I'm a little depressed. Perhaps the owners can lock out the players for 3 years so we dont need to make a disastrous PR contract that will anchor this team in the years to come. I have said many times over that Iggy would be great in a Selanne type of scenario where there is a top young line to carry that weight. He would be lethal in that environment. This is just a no win scenario, unless Iggy readily admits that his role is that diminished & is willing to take a home town discount of 4-5 mill per season & play 2nd line. He is not worth the $$$ I have a sinking feeling he will be able to get. We have no choice, we have to move on & trade him to a Pitt or Boston or Rangers & hope to get the best return we can. We may even have to consider giving him to the Canuckleheads. Kassian, Ballard(cap balance) a 1st & a 2nd & make Iggy happy. Maybe we can resign him for a retirement contract in 2-3 years.

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#13 TB
August 20 2012, 01:19PM
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How do Iginla's 10-11 season numbers look like compared to 09-10 and 11-12?

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#14 FC4L
August 20 2012, 01:19PM
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Can't deploy him on the top line, power for power, and "pretend" to be making a playoff dash? Hahahha what a joke. 2 seasons removed from 42 goals under that putrid stench of Brent Sutter coaching.

Kent Wilson is trying to get Eric Francis' job once that tool heads East for good.

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#15 Hellfire
August 20 2012, 01:24PM
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You can not argue with the numbers presented but I truly feel that Iginla only gave enough to keep his point totals good. I don’t think he cared playing for Brent. I say this because it could be seen in his attitude during interviews and his intensity on the ice, his little grin and upbeat attitude was gone. Not only did it affect his play it also had an effect on a lot of players on the team that just did not seem to perform the same before Brent was brought into coach. I would not say this if Iginla was the only player effected but a lot of the team has not performed to the same level they did before Brent’s time as coach. I am truly an optimist and see things changing for the good now that Brent is not coaching the team. Even professionals under perform when they do not like the boss.

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#16 SmellOfVictory
August 20 2012, 01:43PM
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Ryan Pike wrote:

Third line Iginla could be excellent. But who's the first-line right wing?

Keep the first line in name (Tanguay, Cammalleri, Iginla), and split the ES minutes about equally between it and the other two lines, while trying to shelter it to some extent. I think the agreement is that Iginla's greatest deficiencies (and Cammalleri's as well) are in the defensive zone, so if you try to focus their ice time in the offensive zone with lower TOI, I think the ES results would be comparatively good.

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#17 xis10ce
August 20 2012, 01:47PM
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In a situation where Iggy plays 3rd line minutes + PP could we see more out of him when he's on the ice,(not only because he's playing easier comp) but also because he plays less time? Last year and the year before he averaged 20-21mins a game. Would he potentially have that much more gas in the tank to burn and double down his effort if he was playing say 17-18mins a game? Or would we just see a linear decrease in point output with the equivalent reduction in minutes on ice?

What I mean is would it be possible to see a semi-significant increase in his pts/60 by playing less minutes and thus tiring him out less? Also if we did this we'd obviously not be rolling him head to head vs the toughs like Datsyuk/Det.

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#18 Chris
August 20 2012, 01:51PM
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Kent, while these numbers are fact revealing, how about do a comparison of Iginla to other players in similiar situations. Players whose careers are coming to a close, players who have played the kind of power forward minutes that Iginla has, players that have done it on a team, where for the majority of his career has been defence first, players who have not had a bonafide set up man. The simple fact is Iginla is the best Calgary Flame to ever play the game, hands down, he has also been as consistent a hockey player that there has been. I ask you if you can still do the same things at 35 years old that you could do at 28, he needs to stop being asked to do the same things and aloow his career to age gracefully, the same way that Yzerman, Messier, and all the other older players were allowed to. Fans need to quit beating him up and realize that we have been part of something very special in Calgary

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#19 Bean-counting cowboy
August 20 2012, 01:56PM
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Hellfire wrote:

You can not argue with the numbers presented but I truly feel that Iginla only gave enough to keep his point totals good. I don’t think he cared playing for Brent. I say this because it could be seen in his attitude during interviews and his intensity on the ice, his little grin and upbeat attitude was gone. Not only did it affect his play it also had an effect on a lot of players on the team that just did not seem to perform the same before Brent was brought into coach. I would not say this if Iginla was the only player effected but a lot of the team has not performed to the same level they did before Brent’s time as coach. I am truly an optimist and see things changing for the good now that Brent is not coaching the team. Even professionals under perform when they do not like the boss.

I'm curious what will be the excuse when the results are the same under Hartley next year?

Appreciate the optimism, but a coaching change will not suddenly and magically rebound Iggy to his former abilities. How many coaches does he need to be motivated? Iggy is the perennial coach killer. The advanced stats don't lie. Keep in mind that each year a new coach comes is also a year older on the clock of life.

Sure, maybe he tries a bit harder - can he still compete with the heavies? Absolutely not. Will the results be significantly better, I highly doubt it.

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#20 negrilcowboy
August 20 2012, 02:14PM
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great article kent, and to think just last week i was almost tarred and feathered for stating the very same thing. when i suggested igglatowski as an overpaid thrid liner i was met with distain. thank you kent.

i agree with bean counting cowboy, how are the spin doctors going to respond when the numbers are the same under hartley? gee schucks we are going to need a bounce back game.

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#21 Kevin R
August 20 2012, 02:38PM
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Chris wrote:

Kent, while these numbers are fact revealing, how about do a comparison of Iginla to other players in similiar situations. Players whose careers are coming to a close, players who have played the kind of power forward minutes that Iginla has, players that have done it on a team, where for the majority of his career has been defence first, players who have not had a bonafide set up man. The simple fact is Iginla is the best Calgary Flame to ever play the game, hands down, he has also been as consistent a hockey player that there has been. I ask you if you can still do the same things at 35 years old that you could do at 28, he needs to stop being asked to do the same things and aloow his career to age gracefully, the same way that Yzerman, Messier, and all the other older players were allowed to. Fans need to quit beating him up and realize that we have been part of something very special in Calgary

Great post & a lot of valid statements. I guess where do we draw the line of allowing him to age gracefully versus being the Captain versus his compensation on a contract extension? The numbers dont lie. We've missed the playoffs for the last 3 years, more proof in that the numbers dont lie. At what point do you say the team & the mission statement to win a Stanley Cup be placed higher than one player, no matter how great that player was for a franchise? So if it isnt fair to ask Iginla to perform at 35 like when he was at 28, is it fair to have to pay him 6-7.0 million per year with this rationale?

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#22 RexLibris
August 20 2012, 03:07PM
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@Chris

I think one of the things that can be taken away from this article, and many of the subsequent comments, is that it isn't necessarily the coach or or even the fans who are demanding the same from Iginla at 35 as they did at 28, but rather the management (and by extension, ownership) who are.

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#23 Austin L
August 20 2012, 03:08PM
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Well that has me scared. So it's unlikely he'll ever see more than 70 points unless he's with someone like Tanguay on the second line playing soft minutes. Honestly, I think we should trade him well we still have the chance. This year represents a crossroads for the team. Are they going to continue to pursue mediocrity, Iggy and Kipper are both past their primes. It's time for Edwards to realize that.

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#24 RexLibris
August 20 2012, 03:19PM
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Great article, Kent. It looks like this would have taken quite a lot of work to gather together, and the argument is certainly a convincing one.

So going back to the point made at the beginning of the thread: what are the Flames to do? They obviously need to shelter Iginla but behind which wingers? Analysis would suggest that Hudler needs similarly soft minutes, while Stempniak has never been one to thrive against the best competition the NHL had to offer, and while they could move Cammalleri back to the wing that would only expose a greater hole at center.

If Feaster had a plan to build this roster (which is now undeniably his creation), and if he is sincere (and at all correct) in that the Flames are a league-leader in employing statistical analysis, then what does this collection of players say about his vision and ability as a General Manager?

For distraught Flames fans I wouldn't take this article to say that the team can't win with Iginla, but rather that the team can't win playing Iginla the way they have been.

What compounds this difficult position is that, statistically speaking, the Flames ought to play Iginla as a 3rd line winger but are paying him as a first line franchise player and have gone to great lengths to incorporate him into the overall perception of the franchise and city.

If these numbers represent Iginla's strengths and weaknesses, what does that do to the perception of value that Iginla has amongst the fan base?

I can't wait to read what evertonfc and the-wolf have to say about this.

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#25 purple haaze
August 20 2012, 03:49PM
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Long time reader ... first time poster, great article Kent, I've always enjoyed the content on the nation website.

Although I'm a huge Iggy fan, I've been saying to trade him for the last couple of years, its better for the long term interests of the team. But I can respect mgmt's desire to keep him a Flame for life, after all he has been the best player to put on the jersey. So having said that it seems the only way they trade him is if it comes from Iggy himself, my question is does anyone see a situation develop this coming season where Iggy does ask to be traded? Also what happens if we offer him a contract extension but he doesn't sign it saying that he'd rather mull it over in the off season, does mgmt accept that and risk losing him as a ufa Sundin styles with no assets coming back the other way?

Personally I think the best option would be to trade him at the deadline as a rental to a contender and then re-sign him back in the off season. If mgmt told him that's the plan, maybe he'd be on board for that.

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#26 fretsey
August 20 2012, 04:52PM
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I'd like to see a year of Iggys stats when he has 2 bona-fide 1st line NHL calibre players.

I was all in for Iggy to go at last years trade deadline,knowing that the CBA was expiring this year.

When we are out of the race at this years Trade Deadline I have no doubt Iggy will be moved and brought back after his current contract expires.

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#27 RKD
August 20 2012, 08:48PM
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Definitely some valid points here. I still lay blame on ownership and management for not building around Iggy properly. Craig Button and Darryl Sutter never properly surrounded Iginla with the right players.

Iggy did have chemistry with Connie. However, the Flames have not had a #1 center in over a decade. Jokinen was supposed to be answer, however his stats were inflated playing in a weak SE division. Also, IMO Sutter got Jokinen one year too late.

Look at the recent Stanley Cup winners: L.A., Boston, Chicago, Pittsburgh, and Detroit. All with #1 and #2 centers, lots of depth down the middle.

Iginla made the supporting cast around him better in his prime, but now that he and Kipper are past their prime they are guilty of hindering the team. C'mon.

Iggy and Kipper may have lost a step or two but at the end of the day, ownership and management failed them mightily.

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#28 BurningSensation
August 20 2012, 09:15PM
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Lies, damn lies, and statistics.

Has he lost a step? Yes.

Is he still a top six winger who draws the oppositions best night in and out? Yes.

Is this article ignoring 2010-11? Yes.

More hate-fuel for the haters? Undoubtably.

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#29 Kypreos
August 20 2012, 11:39PM
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Iginla has lost a stop but he still valuable to the team. It is up to the coaching staff to put him in a position to excel. look a Brett Hull in the latter part of his career was still a sniper but he was put in the postion by coaching to be a sniper. He deserves respect I suggest you give it to him!

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#30 TheLastBigBear
August 21 2012, 04:45AM
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Bring Iggy back at $5-6m for 3-4 years, full NMC and whatever handshake agreements he wants. With the understanding that he will be again renewed at market value, to be repeated until he choses to retire.

Then allow him gracefully slide down the depth chart, ala Teemu Selanne or Sergei Fedorov.

Your stats raise an interesting question, but thats all they do, as they don't pass the smell test.

Corsi is not a measure of success on the ice, it is a PROXY for measuring success on the ice, useful in those cases where success on the ice is difficult to measure. As a scoring winger, Iginla's success (or lack thereof) is very easy to measure. It's his job to put up counting stats. And he does.

You use Corsi stats to imply that he's "getting his head beaten in", but when using the real (rather than proxy) measures of success, thats not apparently the case. He just finished his worst season ever (on a team that was, frankly, terrible), and the simple counting stats (+/-) show that the opposition would score one more EV goal than Iginla's line maybe once every 2 or 3 weeks. And that's the worst he's ever done by that measure (the measure of 'actually scoring more than the other team')

And this very site has made an argument (one that 100% support) that TOI is probably the best statistical indicator of a player's abilities. Not perfect, but probably the best single number you can give. What does his TOI, and his TOI against top players, say about Iginla?

So my retort is this: 1) Iggy scores tons of goals. 2) Iggy scores tons of goals against the best players in the NHL. 3) Despite supposedly 'getting his head beaten in' at EV, it is surprisingly infrequently that his line is ever out scored by the bad guys (once every 20 games or so over the last 3 years). 4) He is given the most minutes among forwards on his team, and plays the toughest minutes. Because he is the best, and the people who play with and against him know that he is the best.

I will be perfectly happy to see Iginla move down the depth chart in the next few seasons.

He is not the player he was when he was 28. But to be sure, neither is he the player your statistical analysis is making him out to be.

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#31 TheLastBigBear
August 21 2012, 04:53AM
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Correction: I didn't really phrase my point #3 properly above, but I'm sure you all catch my drift anyways. Iggy's lines have been *cumulatively* out scored at EV by the bad guys once every 20.5 games or so.

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#32 SmellOfVictory
August 21 2012, 08:50AM
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@TheLastBigBear

If he's brought back for 3-4 years, that's likely a retirement contract, and I don't think he should be making any more than 5 million AAV on it. Selanne didn't request/get that much, and it's unlikely that Iginla, even as good a shape as he's in, ends up being that productive into his late 30s.

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#33 hamburgler
August 21 2012, 09:01AM
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I love Iginla. I love what he has done for this city, but it's time for some "Intellectual honesty". Great article. Big dilema. We don't have a 1st line RW (I honestly dont think we have a 2nd line RW either) If management trades Iggy what does that say to the casual fan? Just look at when we traded FOR him. I remember the headline in the Herald "Jarome who?" It's time to move on this asset while he still is an asset, even though he means so much to the city.

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#34 The Last Big Bear
August 21 2012, 11:50AM
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SmellOfVictory wrote:

If he's brought back for 3-4 years, that's likely a retirement contract, and I don't think he should be making any more than 5 million AAV on it. Selanne didn't request/get that much, and it's unlikely that Iginla, even as good a shape as he's in, ends up being that productive into his late 30s.

Just some numbers...

Number of NHLers aged 38 and over in 11-12: 17

Average cap hit of NHLers 38 and over: $3.2m

Avg cap hit of fwds over 40 years old signed for 2012-2013: $4.5m

These elite guys who can get the job done, even after they've lost that youthful spring from their step, are still very valuable.

I think Iginla will play until he's around 40, and he will still be making above-NHL-average money when he pulls the plug.

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#35 RexLibris
August 21 2012, 12:03PM
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The problem with sliding Iginla down the depth chart is that it only works if you have better available options to be placed ahead of him.

I think one of Kent's concerns with the Flames is that there are no heirs to that kind of ice time and role. If Iginla plays behind Cammalleri or Stempniak what does it mean for the kind of competition that they will be facing and the results that would follow?

Selanne could move back because Getzlaf, Perry and Ryan are/were so dominant that they would force the opposing team to match their best players against them.

I'm not saying they shouldn't re-sign him, but part of facing the facts of Iginla's declining abilities is that the team hasn't been able to groom any kind of replacement player.

We'll have to see how things shake out this season, but it could be a very telling one.

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#36 PrairieStew
August 22 2012, 09:57AM
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Some perspective. The best player in Flames history before Jarome was Lanny McDonald, and when I say best, his ability was complimented by his leadership and his popularity in the community.

At the age of 35, Lanny was far from being a first line RW. Ahead of him on the depth chart were Joey Mullen, Hakan Loob and Colin Patterson. He competed for 4th line time with Mark Hunter, then a rookie named Theoren Fleury and ended the year with 11 goals - on a team that scored 354 !

Brendan Shanahan is a close comparable. He was a top 6 forward on a deep veteran Detroit squad - one that had 5 possibly 6 future HOFer's. Shanahan scored 25 goals and had 28 assists that year.

The only player to score 50 goals at age 35 was Johnny Bucyk on the 70-71 Bruins (4 HOf er's including Bucyk)- a team that scored a new record of 399 goals. If Calgary scores even 60% of that level (240) they would be fortunate - so a 30 goal season by Jarome would be just about the same as the Chief's 51 in 71.

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#37 smtorsch
August 22 2012, 01:24PM
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I'm curious how far back we can go to create these WOWYs. I'd like to see if we can locate the point in time when things started to go downhill for Iggy.

I remember a time, long ago, when Iginla was a power forward with a decent two-way game that - gasp! - killed penalties. I presume based only on those nostalgic memories that his Corsi would be respectable and we'd see that he was driving play in the right direction.

Flash forward to today and that's clearly no longer the case. When in those intervening 6-8 years did things start to turn the corner? Was it a combination of age and all those miles on his body catching up with him? Was it a change in his style of play?

I'm hopeful the numbers were only really this bad when Brent Sutter was behind the bench indicating a change in coaching philosophy might squeeze a few more productive seasons out of Iggy.

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