Earlier this morning it was reported the Calgary Flames had traded long-time captain Jarome Iginla to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for college prospects Kenneth Agostino, Ben Hanowski and a first round pick in 2013.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: After apparently having a deal which would’ve shipped Iginla to the Boston Bruins, the Flames opted to sent their long-time captain to the Penguins, a move he obviously approved As more than one observer noted, the Penguins are “all in” this season to win the Stanley Cup, having acquired Iginla, Brenden Morrow and Douglas Murray this week.
The trade does raise a couple of questions for the Penguins. First, how they’ll adjust their lines to accommodate Iginla, and if he’ll remain a Penguin beyond this season. It’s assumed Iginla will play on Sidney Crosby’s line, but Crosby’s had terrific chemistry this season with linemates Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis. He could play on Evgeni Malkin’s line, though James Neal usually plays on the right side there. Iginla reportedly didn’t want to be a playoff rental player, but the Penguins already have over $53 million invested in 16 players next season, plus they’ll have to re-sign Malkin and Kris Letang before they become UFAs in 2014. They might not have enough cap space to keep “Iggy” beyond this season.
As for the Flames, management will be skewered for this deal, but honestly, they weren’t going to find a better return. Iginla only wanted to go to four teams, and two of them didn’t need him, or weren’t willing to part with a suitable return. The Kings and Blackhawks simply weren’t going to offer up more, and the Bruins offer wasn’t much better.
While most Flames fans see the sense in moving Iginla, the harsh reality is going to slap them in the face today. He’s been the face of the franchise for over a decade, a member of the Flames for 16 years, and the best player in franchise history. It’s going to hurt when the reality finally sets in that he’s truly gone, and this club must rebuild, but it had to be done. That’s the price of doing business in the NHL, and the Flames simply weren’t a good enough team anymore.