Germane to the conversation last week about the possibility of the Flames dealing a number of their more tradeable assets from last week’s 5T is that in the seven days since that was published there sure is starting to be a lot more of that "Iginla’s definitely getting traded" talk kicking around. That includes very legitimate speculation about where he could go and even disquieted, somewhat-annoyed quotes from the man himself yesterday.
So with that in mind, I figured it might be wise to look at the five teams I’ve heard brought up most often in connection with Iginla’s name, and whether they can match the rumored asking price of a first-round pick in this year’s draft, a (possibly defensive) prospect and a solid roster player with whom they might be willing to part.
1. Pittsburgh Penguins
This is the team you most often hear in connection with Iginla, and one that seems to make the most sense on paper. Jarome Iginla playing alongside Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, James Neal, and Kris Letang on a top power play unit seems particularly unfair in general to the rest of the NHL, even as the Penguins continue to pile goals on everyone they play. Plus Canadians in particular would like to see Crosby slotted in with Iginla just so they can relive that overtime goal a few dozen more times a night.
Do they have the pieces? Do they ever. If the Flames, as rumored, want defensive prospects in particular. The Pens have Joe Morrow, Simon Despres, Olli Maata, Scott Harrington and Brian Dumoulin all looking like they’re going to be NHLers at some point in the next few years. They also have their first-round pick for this season, and a guy like Tyler Kennedy seems like the roster player the Pens would be happy to part with in exchange for a player of Iginla’s reputation.
Will it happen? Probably not. As Rob Rossi pointed out over the weekend, it’s tough to see where Iginla fits in with the Pens, as their top two right-wing slots seem to be as full as they are down the middle. With Crosby goes Chris Kunitz, who’s on 18 goals and 40 points in 31 games. With Malkin goes Neal, who scored 40 goals last season and is up to 17 this year. So why on earth would the Pens give up that kind of haul for someone who would be relegated to third-line minutes and power play specializing? Doesn’t make sense, even the team probably has the best combination of pieces the Flames would want. Unfortunately for Jay Feaster, that just isn’t how it works.
2. Boston Bruins
You hear this one a lot too, and it makes a pretty healthy amount of sense as well. Maybe the return wouldn’t be quite as good, but this is a team that has more obvious deficiencies in attack than Pittsburgh.
Do they have the pieces? Their prospect pool is a little top-heavy from what I can tell, and they’re sure not about to let Dougie Hamilton go. Would Calgary take a Ryan Spooner or potentially Alex Khoklachev — maybe even Jordan Caron, but that seems unlikely — as forward prospects? Tough to say. It is important to note, though, that the roster player the Bruins give up would likely be better than Tyler Kennedy (think perhaps Dan Paille or Greg Campbell). They do have their first-round pick for this year, but given the team’s quality, it could be exceedingly low.
Will it happen? Gun to my head, this is the team to which Iginla would be traded if he were, just because they might have the greatest need for him and might therefore be a little more desperate to acquire him than everyone else.
3. Los Angeles Kings
This is a club that’s only more recently come up for discussion as being interested, but that’s like, "Capital I" Interested, from everything I’ve read. I’m a little skeptical, but let’s at least look under the rock for the sake of doing so.
Do they have the pieces? They traded their first-rounder to Columbus in the Jeff Carter trade, but they’re probably pretty happy with the move considering how the playoffs went for them. Nonetheless, that’s probably a hurdle they’d have to get over in a hurry if this were to happen. On the other hand, if you want defensive prospects, the Kings have a few, perhaps most notably rookie Jake Muzzin who’s been very good on their blue line this year but could be the price they have to pay for someone to help on their right wing. As for a roster player, they have a few useful forwards Calgary probably wouldn’t hate choosing from.
Will it happen? Well, let’s just say Justin Williams is getting their second-line right wing minutes, so Iginla would almost certainly be an upgrade. It also makes sense in the reuniting of Iginla and Darryl Sutter. The rumors of interest kicked up fast, which makes me think there’s more to it than just idle HFBoards-ing from the hockey media. I wouldn’t be shocked if it happened but man, their not having a first-round pick in this draft has to be considered a major impediment. Can you imagine Feaster trying to justify that return?
4. San Jose Sharks
This, on the other hand, seems the ultimate in idle HFBoards-ing. The Sharks currently sit in eighth place as of this writing, tied with Phoenix and (haha) Columbus at 30 points and if they’re going to wring one more meager attempt at doing something noteworthy in their playoffs, this looks like their only chance.
Do they have the pieces? Their prospect pool is a little bare from what I can surmise, but they have a couple decent-ish players in the system. No one that’ll bowl you over but a few that project into decent NHLers, including Tomas Hertl and Matt Nieto. Whether they’d be willing to give up their best prospect or two is, I guess, another matter. They also probably have a decent roster player like TJ Galiardi or Tommy Wingels to deal, and they haven’t offloaded their first-rounder yet either.
Will it happen? If the rumors are to be believed, they’d probably have to get into a bidding war with the Kings, a division rival, and that doesn’t seem like something that would go well for the Sharks overall. One imagines they’d have to get exceedingly desperate to pull it off, which isn’t out of the realm of possibility.
5. Detroit Red Wings
Of the teams with an outside shot to land Iginla, I’d say the Red Wings are the front-runners. They’re trying to keep hope alive with regard to making the playoffs, Iginla certainly helps pad out that lead they have over eighth, which is three points and can’t feel all that comfortable. But if they think this makes them in any way a contender, they’re sadly mistaken.
Do they have the pieces? They’re not giving up Brendan Smith, but a number of other defensive prospects look fairly intriguing, as do a few forwards as well (Jurco, Frk, Jarnkrok, Nyqvist, Tatar and other guys with silly last names probably). They have their first-round pick, and maybe they throw in an Eaves or Abdelkader to round out the deal. Not a great haul, but one that seems at least a little realistic.
Will it happen? Again, this looks like a team that would have the pieces if they didn’t have anyone bidding against them, but I don’t know how that returns stands up against, say, LA’s or Boston’s, except to say, "Not that well."