July 03 2013 12:10PM
It's not really a Calgary issue anymore, but I'm sure many Flames fans will be interested to see where Jarome Iginla ends up signing this weekend. The former captain to date has not be re-signed by the Pittsburgh Penguins and given their rapidly dwindling cap space with the re-signing of Pascal Dupuis (and the retention of Marc-Andre Fleury) it's a good bet Jarome will be looking for the third stop of his NHL career very soon.
With the cap going down it means there are a lot of potential players already out of the running for Iginla's services. Besides the Penguins, the Philadelphia Flyers (-1.25M), Minnesota Wild (-0.132M), San Jose Sharks ($4.5M), Vancouver Canucks ($4.7M) and Boston Bruins ($4.7M) are all either over or periously close to the cap ceiling already.
You can probably also add the Los Angeles Kings to that list. Sutter's Kings have around $5.0M in cap space, but need to replace or re-sign guys like Brad Richardson, Kyle Clifford, Dustin Penner, Trevor Lewis, Jake Muzzin, Keaton Ellerby and Alex Martinez. Not a lot of budget there.
So that's a big chunk of the NHL's money spenders and contenders. Who's left?
Possible Iggy Destinations
The cup champs boast one of the strongest line-ups in the league, but they have already begun to lose some pieces, including Dave Bolland and Michael Frolik (traded at the draft). Word is they are going to let Viktor Stalberg leave as a free agent and it's probable healthy scratch Jama Mayers will join him.
The Hawks have almost $11M in cap space to play with but that will be whittled down a bit when they re-sign RFA Nick Leddy. They also have to re-sign Markus Kruger, find a back-up for Crawford and replace pending UFAs Michal Roszival and Michal Handsuz.
It'll be close, but if Iginla is more motivated by a chance to win than by a pay check, he could probably land in Chicago. The team is strong enough up front that Iginla could settle into a nice, secondary scoring role where he wouldn't have to play the tough minutes at even strength.
Detroit Red Wings
They're not quite a league heavyweight anymore, but the Wings are still highly competitive. Detroit has about $8M in cap space right now, but will need to re-sign RFAs Gustav Nyquist, Joakim Andersson and Brendan Smith as well retain or replace Val Filppula, Daniel Cleary, and Ian White.
Meaning there's some wiggle room but not much. Again, Iginla will have to be mostly motivated by the team and organization than the dollars in order to land with Detroit. My guess is he'd also be thrust in a bit more of a primary role, especially if they lose Filpulla and Cleary to free agency.
New York Rangers
No one in the league likes to chase after big name players quite like Glen Sather in New York, even if they are clearly on the downslope of their career. The Rangers have $12M in budget space and a handful of RFA's to re-ink (Hagelin, Stepan, Falk, McDonagh, Moore). McDonagh, Stepan and Hagelin should eat a big chunk of dough, but there's no question Sather will make the call to Iginla's agent if manages to retain any cap space at all.
The Rangers are a middle-tier club, although they don't lack star power in Richards, Nash, Lundqvist, etc. Iginla would be thrust into the spotlight and would probably land a top-6 spot in NY, at least to start. It would certainly be a tougher gig than, say, Chicago (just ask Brad Richards!).
It's terrible to contemplate, but Iginla is an Edmonton native, the Oilers have about $10M in cap space and they would no doubt be enamoured with acquring Iginla's experience and leadership for their very young dressing room.
The Oilers have other needs, including re-signing Sam Gagner and replacing about half of their rather sad blueline, but it's possible they'll have some dollars remaining for Jarome. That said, Iginla would have to be okay with joining a club that has yet to raise itself out of the Western Conference basement and, of course, more or less spitting in the eye of Flames fans everywhere.
This one is possible, but not likely.
St. Louis Blues
If they have interest, the Blues might be the odds-on favorite to land Iginla. They are a strong contender in the West, boast nearly $13M in cap space and, like the Hawks, could deploy Iggy in a more secondary/support role.
The one roadblock is the fact the Blues already have 12 pretty capable NHL forwards signed, including Backes, Oshie, Perron, Berglund, Steen, Tarasenko, Sobotka and Schwarz. If they re-sign Chris Stewart, it might be difficult to shoehorn Jarome into the line-up.
Finally, the word around town is the Sens could lose Daniel Alfredsson to free agency (whaaaat?). They have over $21 in available cap room and, if Alfie leaves town, a giant hole in the "over 35 inspirational RWer who can still play" area of the roster. Ottawa is also a good enough team that they could convince Iginla they are contender and unlike some of the other options listed, they could probably pay him more than a few bills to sign on.
If he's added to replace Alfredsson and for more than a marginal amount, Iginla will no doubt be expected to be a top-6 forward on most nights for Ottawa. Probably not the most ideal role for him at this point, but that's for Jarome and the bug eyed walrus to worry about I suppose.
naturally, the list above isn't comprehensive and we can only speculate about Iginla's motivations. Maybe he wants one last big contract more than anything else? Or maybe he just wants to move in a nice warm climate and ride into the sunset? Still, assuming Iginla wants to win and he stenjoys a good reputation around the league, these are the clubs I judge to be his most probable destinations right now.