March 26, 2013

Why the Bruins should trade for Jarome Iginla

By Kirk Luedeke

A change of scenery could do a wealth of good for Flames winger Jarome Iginla. (Getty Images)

The Boston Bruins need scoring help.  Calgary captain Jarome Iginla can score goals like few others in the history of the National Hockey League.

Why settle for mediocre, middling players who are good for about 20 goals a year when you can go out and get a future first-ballot Hall of Fame player?  

Until this admittedly sub-par season at age 35 for the Flames’ heart-and-soul player and MVP, Iginla posted 11 consecutive seasons with 30 or more goals. That's E-L-E-V-E-N! Of those years, Iginla led the NHL in goals (52) in 2002, adding another 50-goal campaign in 2008. A modern Mike Gartner, he posted two 40+-goal years and another with 39 markers. Iginla’s streak might have reached 12 if not for the lost 2004-05 season.

Beyond the obvious production to the tune of 525 career goals and 1,095 points, “Iggy” is the consummate pro and captain who brings a physical style and the character that the Bruins and their fans covet.  He hits, he’ll fight and he carries himself with the highest degree of class and professionalism.

Is he on the downside of his storied playing career? There is little doubt that he is. However, do Bruins fans so quickly forget the kind of complete impact that a 41-43-year-old Mark Recchi had in being an instrumental piece in Boston’s first Stanley Cup championship team in 39 years? Leaders like Iginla can bring so much more than the numbers on the score sheet, and when you think about how consistent Iginla has been over the course of his 1,218 NHL games, it isn’t a stretch to think he can get back to the 30-goal level, at least in the short term.

Opponents of the trade will howl: But think of the children! Ryan Spooner, Alexander Khokhlachev and Malcolm Subban are all blue-chip prospects at 21, 19 and 19 years of age respectively. They reside in the top-three of most lists that rank Boston’s prospect crop. Having said that, they are still prospects whose grand sum total of NHL games to date sits at four (Spooner). They are talented and carry a good deal of promise and upside. But at present, that is all it is- unrealized potential. Just as their fans would argue that these players are “can’t miss”, there is an opposing view that says that they might not ever live up to the hype.

As for the draft pick, it’s house money at this point. The Bruins would be upgrading their top-six forwards by adding Iginla. Nobody they would select in 2013 would be even in a position to challenge for a job in Boston for another 2-3 years at the very least barring some kind of miracle find in the last five picks of the opening round. A team like the Flames has far more use for a first-rounder than the Bruins do right now.

If the B’s land Iginla, it will be so they can sign him to an extension. That presents a challenge for 2013-14 and Boston’s available cap space for re-signing Tuukka Rask as well, but GM Peter Chiarelli has proven himself if nothing else, to be a pretty shrewd cap manager. Marc Savard’s LTIR would provide relief and the team would have the summer to move salary to generate wiggle room. All of that is worth it to add a player of Iginla’s caliber to the mix.

At the end of the day, we’ve watched an already elite team like the Pittsburgh Penguins get better with two veteran additions of Brenden Morrow and Douglas Murray without giving up a roster player. The Bruins have a chance to at least address their scoring woes, and even if Iginla would not solve all of Boston’s problems, he’d be a fine start.

Winning teams do so because they accept risk and make bold moves at the right time. Calgary needs to move on from Iginla, and the change of scenery out East might just do him a world of good. Sure, the loss of a couple of high-end prospects would hurt Boston’s depth, but if you look at Iginla’s body of work, there’s a real case to be made that he’ll resort to All-Star form. If the going rate for Morrow was high enough, why not go the extra mile for a proven sniper?

If you want to win in this league, you go with the surer bet rather than worry *if* the B’s are giving up future stars.

Twitter: @kluedeke29