Trade Iginla and Other Thoughts




I asked the questions in the Flamesnation quarter pole roundtablem but I didn’t get to share my own thoughts on Flames and the season at hand. Now is as good a time as any.

End of an Era

On perhaps the most pressing debate in Flames circles today, plant me firmly in the "trade Iginla" camp. I’ll build my argument around a comment made by Jeff Lebowski in the recent Stoking the Fire (mostly because it’s a convenient starting point, not to pick on Jeff in particular) –

Trading Iggy and/or Kipper is the stupidest notion. You need Kessel type return to impact this franchise and no team will give that compensation. You can not get adequate return for what Iggy and Kipper mean to the integrity of this team.

It’s not 2004 anymore folks. Iginla and Kipper are two players in their mid-thirties with a handful of years left on their contracts who are drifting inevitably from their peaks – peaks that are quite obviously in the past. They aren’t going to be in Calgary forever and they aren’t pieces you build around anymore. The Iginla/Kipper epoch of the Flames history is pretty much in it’s denouement.

Calgary has finished 10th in the west two years in a row and are set to do so again this season. I’m not going to advocate the club trade Iginla for anything, but this notion that he and Kipper are integral to the success of this team is nonsense (what success?). The Flames current quest isn’t to retain the doddering stars of yesteryear. It is to find new stars.

Try this exercise: project what the Flames will look like in the summer of 2013 (that’s the summer after next). Jarome will be 36 and a free agent. Kipper will be 37 with one year left on his deal. Tanguay will be 35.

A transition is coming one way or the other. The team can either try to leverage depreciating assets like Iginla and Kipper for a return or they can keep them around and let them drift away for nothing, Markus Naslund/Matts Sundin style.

– Of course, I’m talking ideally and from a position comfortably outside the org. In reality, all the noise coming from the management office indicates the Flames have no interest in trading Jarome and that he’s here to stay. I think this stance comes from a couple of directions:

1.) PR – No one in the upper offices wants to be the guy who chose to trade one of the best players to ever don the Flames jersey. Moving folk heroes is tricky business – both the return and the optics need to be just right. As such, it looks to me like the club is setting it up so Iginla essentially has to be the guy to make the decision – then none of the suits can be made to look like the bad guy.

2.) Marketing – Iginla remains the most marketable face on the Flames roster and his absence would create a giant sucking vacuum on the roster in terms of selling the club. The decision makers may be reluctant to actively shop Jarome until they can find another player to take his place as "face of the franchise".

A New Hope?

Speaking of which, Sven Baertschi may become that guy if he continues to tear through junior. He currently boasts the best point-per-game pace in the entire CHL (2.37/game); a pace that would see him finish with 156 points in 66 games. Last year he scored 85 in 66 for context.

I’ve been tracking Baertschi’s point totals across game states and the kid has 24 even strength points, 20 on the PP and one SH. He started the year out mostly cashing in with the man advatage, but has been killing it at five-on-five recently (10 ES points in four games).

It’s worth noting that the Winterhawks are a very high scoring team which is obviously helping Baertschi post his numbers. It’s also unlikely he’ll continue on such a torrid scoring rate: last year no WHL player managed more than 116 points for instance. However, if he can post more than one ES point-per-game and finishes with more than 100 points this year, those are two big arrows pointing in the right direction for him.

Of note: I believe the last time a Flames pick scored 100+ points in junior was Cory Stillman (6th overall) all the way back in 1990-91. Matt Lombardi pulled a 130-point season out in his final year of junior, but that’s far more common for 20-year olds and is therefore less notable. Jarrett Stoll is the only other guy who kind of qualifies: he managed 106 in his 18-year old season for the Kootenay Ice. THe Flames failed to sign him though and he re-entered the draft in 2002 where he was drafted by Edmonton. Calgary returned the favor by picking Lombo, who had been an Oilers pick two years earlier as well.


– Where ever you fall on the trade Iginla debate, I think we can all agree that Rene Bourque needs to be moved. It pains me to admit that because I was a tireless Rene Bourque booster prior to his re-signing, but the dude has absolutely fallen off a cliff since he inked his long-term deal and he’s trending in the wrong direction. Last year, he played with Jokinen in a semi-shut down role so his near team worst possession and scoring chance differentials were somewhat justified and it was worth waiting to see if he would bounce back this season.

No such luck. In fact, he’s a few miles worse. He still lags behind just about everyone on the club in terms of driving the play by both chances and possession, except this year his assignment is a lot easier with Glencross/Jokinen/Iginla/Tanguay seeing the lion’s share of tough match-ups. That has left Bourque mostly to bat clean-up and he’s completely struck out: worst relative corsi amongst regulars, awul scoring chance ratio, middling competition and the easiest zone start situation (54%) this side of PL3. Getting beat up by other teams top-lines is one thing – utterly failing to take advantage of easy minutes is another.

Whatever the teams plans – be it rebuild, re-tool, status quo…Bourque needs to go. He’s a detriment on the ice and his contract is going to be exposed as an albatross very soon.

– As far as I can tell, the Flames are probably slightly better than their record indicates so far but have taken a step backwards from where they were last year. I think they are likely to claw their from the depths of the western conference basement, but not much farther. Last year they could have made the post-season as an 8th seed and it wouldn’t have been grossly out of line with their real talent level. Unless something drastically changes this season, though, 10th fits the Calgary Flames like a glove.

– Around the NHL, the most surprising coach firing for me so far is Randy Carlyle. The Ducks definitely suck, but I’m not sure there’s anything more he could have done about the situation. The problem this year so far is Cory Perry is not running hot and Jonas Hiller is not constantly bailing the club out with a sky-high SV%. The roster is puddle deep and Carlyle was one of the more active bench managers in the league. It will be interesting to see what Boudreau does in his place, since his use of Washington’s assets seemed far more middle-of-the-road.

  • BobB

    Take a look at the east and think about who could be making a playoff push that would need a goalie.
    FLA jumps out at me and could give us a decent return.

    Tampa and NYI are the others I can see, but the move doesn’t make sense for NYI this year (because they suck) and I think Yzerman is too smart to overpay.

    Iggy is a different story and I could see a bidding war happening at the deadline for him. Maybe I’m dreaming though.

  • I hated to see Nieuwendyk go in ’95 but that trade, unlike so many in Flames history, worked out pretty well. And as much as I love the guy who can play for the same franchise, especially a future HHOF member like Iggy, but I think the Flames franchise is in desperate need of a future face.

    Iginla will always be the face of the Flames resurgence and the franchise owes a lot to the guy, but I think we can all agree that Iginla deserves a shot to play for a cup and the Flames’ have a black hole for a future, so lets start defining that future by getting something in return.

    Its not often I agree with Grant Pollock ( but I think he is right in that the Flames may be a year or two late to have gotten a suitable return for a franchise player.

  • RKD

    Awesome photo of Iggy and Kipper together.

    I guess as a hardcore Flames fan it pains me that both may not win a Stanley Cup as Flames.

    I kept thinking that these two would be able to will themselves back to another Stanley Cup final and win. However, four first round exits and two non-playoff appearances are the reality.

    If you are going to trade Iggy,try to get a really good return. Nothing of a Phaneuf-Stajan debacle?

    You would also get a good return for Kipper as well. However, are Karlsson and Irving ready for prime-time duty?

    At least let Iggy score #500 with Calgary and Kipper get win no. 300 before they get moved, if at all. Maybe end of January or February.

    • T&A4Flames

      I agree, I’m not convinced that Irving or Karlsson are ready. I would really like to make a trade to aquire a young goalie and hopefully one pans out. I’m thinking an Iggy trade could/should include a Rask, Bernier, Schneider etc. With a greater return I would be ok with Bobrovsky or Neuvirth. Iggy+ to Wash. for Neuvirth, Alzner & COL 1st would be sweet.

      Maybe NAS would give up Lindback for Bourque & Moss (or other). I still believe you need goaltending to win so getting a good young goalie for the future core would be a great start.

      As for the Bobby Ryan stuff. Is it really over now that they replaced the coach? If they are having financial difficulties, maybe the whole trade idea came from knowing that they would have to eat Carlyle’s 3 year contract. Shipping off Ryan would be a way to save some $$$ and balance the costs. If we can work a deal for Neuvirth & Alzner +, we could move Butler, Horak and maybe Bourque. I would even include our 2013 3rd for Ryan.

      Our future would look pretty solid with the additions of a good young goalie (Neuvirth), Dman (Alzner)and FWD (Ryan).

  • BobB

    Well put Kent, the Iginla era was what it was and is now over, time to move on and trading Iginla helps do that.

    I can see KK telling the owners, “but if we move Iginla, that’s our #1 best-selling jersey gone and that creates X $/year.” Which, it appears, is all this ownership really cares about anyways. Just average enough to sell hope and fill seats to sell jerseys and beer.

    As far as Iginla and the team each trying to have the other side make the first move in reagrds to a move – how old are these guys? Go sit down together and come to a decision already. This idiotic game of chicken they’re playing right now is unprofessional, childish, small-minded and detrimental to the team now and in the future.

    Time for this club to sell ‘team’ and not ‘icon.’

    Man, I can’t believe I had Baertschi rated at about 20 now. Impossible to say how he does in the NHL, but right now he’s looking like a steal.

    Not sure Carlyle would be the way to go for a coaching change. I think he’s a great coach, but he largely has the same approach, values, attitude and demeanour as Sutter. It would be the same message in a new package.

    @Ross Creek – you are a genius for calling that.

    My ideal scenario: Iginla gets moved to the Caps and part of the return involves the Avs pick.

    Flames then finish bottom 5 as well. 2 lotto picks in the deepest draft since 2003.

    Here’s the reality: moving Iginla means a 3 year rebuild. Keeping him and driving the club off the cliff in 1.5 years means the club is forced into an Edmonton-style 6 year rebuild.

    Take your pick.

  • Scott

    In regards to Bourque, I think you have to get rid of him, if only to free up his salary with the rest of the salary dump next year, and because this team loves to run at the 50 player maximum, giving no leeway. I don’t think it matters what the return is. I’d rather have the roster spot open for a younger guy to not play on the 4th line.

    As for Iggy and Kipper, if they want to stay, you have to let them stay. All the goodwill built up in having these players play here will be wasted if there is a botched trade (most likely outcome with King pulling the trigger).

    If things are handled properly, and we get a Parise for the top line next year, the transition for iggy to go from top line next year, to 2nd line the year after is in place. And we can eat the extra salary for that year, becuase he is a UFA after that.

    As for Kipper, if this team doesn’t have a suitable replacement (Irving?) for next year, I think we need to take a run at schnieder, or Lindback, or Enroth to plan for the future. I don’t know when Lindback or Enroth are FA’s, but they should be on the radar.

    • Graham

      Why do so many people actually think that Parise is a lock to sign in Calgary next summer? There’s no chance, none, notta, zip, nil.

      I’m pretty sure Parise follows the NHL. With the current position the Flames are in, why would he want to sign with a team that is about to enter a full rebuild?

      • Scott

        I should apologize. I my to start a franchise player, like a Parise, or someone of that ilk. We have the cap space to sign a big name, younger guy, and if one is a UFA we should give it a run to see if we can’t land one. If we can’t then we can at least look on July 2 for a trade with a team that wants to shed salary. Maybe a Bobby Ryan becomes available at that time.

        Philly has alot of picks in this upcoming draft. Anyone think we could do a deadline deal of Iggy to Philly for a 1st and schenn or Coutourier? Or if we are super lucky, we can give them anyother player on the roster and get Giroux in return?

        Iggy and Tanguay for a 1st a Giroux?

        • Vintage Flame

          Philly has alot of picks in this upcoming draft. Anyone think we could do a deadline deal of Iggy to Philly for a 1st and schenn or Coutourier? Or if we are super lucky, we can give them anyother player on the roster and get Giroux in return?

          I think with the play of Crosby in Pittsburgh, Philly already feels behind the curve, and the 8-ball. They are definitely a team that should be in the market for Iginla. Schenn or Coutourier and a 1st is reasonable, but there is absolutely NO chance of the Flames getting Claude Giroux out of Philly. None whatsoever.

      • icedawg_42

        I don’t think anyone really considers Parise any kind of lock. Frankly I think the notion is quite far fetched – doesn’t mean I can’t hope for it.

    • BobB

      All three of those goalies are Restricted free agents, so that’ll be tough.

      Schneider for sure would probably like to get out of Vancouver, but they also aren’t keeping him on the bench, but he’s going to be pricey next year.

      What could we trade for those guys? Nothing.
      Vancouver, especially, wouldn’t likely deal Schneider to Calgary.

      If we traded Kipper (which is likely an option), we’d need to bring a goalie back IMHO… and that, combined with his salary, really limits trade partners.

  • trade anyone or everyone, and can butter. the rebuild needs to begin now. replace kk and the lot as well.poor drafting, no player development and no committment to winning has resulted in todays pathetic club. 2 drafted players in a lineup the other evening, gawd thats a joke.

  • BobB

    I think it’s always important to have your eye on a core group…. not “THE core”.

    Who WAS our core? Iggy, Kipper (is about all that’s left)

    Who IS our core (the ones who will (may) be there when we return to being contenders in 4-6 years earliest)

    Gio, Jbo, GlenX, RBQ, Backlund, Comeau and the youngsters. Your ’82 and later birth years.

    If you don’t like the ’82 or later core…that’s fine! (I don’t like parts), but thinking that Kipper and Iggy (irrespective of how good/bad they are) are part of a competitive core is delusional.

    We still have a pretty good core, but we’ve got to stop reliving the past achievements of “THE core”

    If you can trade Kipper or Iggy and improve our competitive core… do it, if not…. probably not.

    • I’ve had your same “82-and-younger-core” in mind over the last month as well… which is why I’ve said the only UFA I MIGHT re-sign is Stempniak. They can sign other team’s UFA’s that are older, but none of their own (although I wouldn’t sign anyone over 32).

  • Ducks had to make that call. Had Boudreau not been available, I’m not sure Carlyle gets fired yet, but that team needed a change.

    I don’t get this notion that “you can’t fire good coaches”. Coaches have shelf lives. They just do. When hockey isn’t fun (see Carlyle’s Ducks or Sutters’ Flames), you NEED to bring a new voice in to ‘freshen’ things up. The same can be said vice versa (see Flames that Darryl took over – they NEEDED that guy, now they NEED to get away from that type).

    Anyways, I called Boudreau to Ducks 46 hrs ago… so I’m obviously a genius.

    Bang on RE: Iginla, Kipper & Bourque, Kent. Time to move on.

  • icedawg_42

    Great read as usual, I was really surprised tht the ducks fired there bench boss, he has constantly proven he can get the job done with below average players not named Geztlaf ///Perry /Ryan. Those three players along with hiller lead the team to a good season last year and I wouldn’t mind getting rid of sutter and getting Carlyle. Maybe tht way we could also try to pick up Ryan for maybe a bourque +prospect and pick or maybe possibly even trade iggy to acquire Ryan. He ccould be the next building block and help with a rebuild

  • icedawg_42

    Just HAAADD to go there eh Kent? I just dont know about the whole “trade Iginla” sentiment. The return would likely piss just about everyone off, and though I would hate to see a ‘secondary scorer’ make 7 million, he’s still the best we’ve got. I still hold that he could be part of a rebuild, at half his salary.

    On Baertschi, did you read that prospectus on him?

    I tend to agree with a lot of what’s said there – there’s a lot to like there, but expectations stemming from domination in junior have to be tempered. I hope he pans out to be a first line guy, I could see him becoming an Eberle type based on what I’ve seen from him..but thats still a very small sample size. On Bork – I couldnt agree more, I think he’s always had somewhat of a “who gives a f*ck” attitude on the ice, but I think that’s also been compounded with a subconscious fear of injury, in short I think he’s playing scared. I think a lot of people here are overvaluing the kids coming up. Suffice to say we don’t have the “kid” line in our system. We really DO need to hunt for a future franchise guy, whether its fishing for a top 5 pick or trying to land the big fish UFA (Parise please)..

    I also hope they land quite far from 10th in the West.

    • joey joe joe jr shabadoo

      I just finished reading that hockey prospectus article you posted. Sounds like Bartschi’s best NHL comparable, at least IMO, is Montreal’s Tomas Plekanec

      • SmellOfVictory

        I’ve heard him compared to Hossa, as well. Caveat upon caveat, Hossa is clearly a first line player and peaked as an elite player in the NHL; while the Prospectus seems to think Baertschi’s ceiling is significantly lower, he’s 19 years old so basically nobody knows jack —- about what he’s capable of becoming. I personally think more of him than they do, but I’m also not a pro scout.

  • icedawg_42

    At this point, if the club doesn’t enter a “rebuild” mode, I find it somewhat unreasonable to move Iginla. Kipper – easier to swallow by far. In fact with Schneider becoming available (possibly) soon, it may be worth it to shrug off Kipper’s contract. I’d be happy to ride a Mike Smith type goaltender until the latter period of a rebuild. That all being said, Iginla or a serious prospect+ or a couple first rounders, and the Flames should be taking a good serious hard look at it.