In 14 years with the Calgary Flames, Jarome Iginla has only been to the Stanley Cup Finals once. That was also the only time he has been a part of a Flames team that advanced beyond the Conference Semi-Finals. Despite being a consistent scorer, the Flames have continually failed to provide Iginla with the proper supporting cast to make a legitimate run at the Stanley Cup. At 34-years-old, Iginla is on pace for one of his worst statistical seasons and the Flames will likely miss the playoffs for a third straight year. It’s time that the Flames do their star player a favor and trade him to a contender.
The problem with trading a player like Iginla involves how that move will impact his legacy in Calgary. Although not drafted by the Flames, Iginla played his first NHL game in a Flames sweater and has been with the club ever since. The fans adore Iginla thanks to his hard work ethic, his on-ice production and his humble nature. It probably doesn’t hurt that he will throw down the gloves for a good scrap every once in a while either. Needless to say, the thought of trading Iginla is viewed as a sacrileges act among the Calgary faithful.
But at some point, as a fan or as a general manager, you need to weigh the importance of building a winner versus keeping your star athlete. The payback on Iginla should certainly help the Flames begin building a winning franchise. After so many seasons where they just weren’t good enough, the Flames need to make the necessary moves to get themselves over the hump and begin seriously competing with the big guns in the West.
Besides, the Flames will have 12 free agents at the end of this season including Olli Jokinen, Scott Hannan, David Moss, Lee Stempniak and Cory Sarich. This season may provide the best time for Calgary to begin the rebuilding process as they can trade away a good number of players for draft picks and prospects and begin building for the future. Unfortunately, if that does happen, Calgary may be looking at a rebuilding process that could take a few seasons before they are truly a contender. Iginla is only signed through next season, but does he really want to go waste a valuable season at the end of his career with a rebuilding franchise?
The problem, as with almost any trade of a significant player, is finding a competitive team who can absorb his salary. And Iginla’s $7 million cap hit certainly doesn’t make that easy. Perhaps a team like the Nashville Predators could make a run at Iginla. The team needs more offense and a move of that caliber would be telling that the team is serious about building a winner, possibly providing incentive for free agents Shea Weber and Ryan Suter to stick around for longer. The Carolina Hurricanes have roughly $13 million in available cap space and would probably love to get their hands on a veteran scorer like Iginla.
Don’t count out a team like the Detroit Red Wings either. The Wings have roughly $5.5 million in available cap space and it’s been rumored that they would love to bring another scorer into their top-six. If Iginla becomes available, he could be a target for the Wings.
According to reports from Hockey Night in Canada, Iginla hasn’t outright asked for a trade, but he has stated that he is beginning to think about life with a team besides the Calgary Flames. That’s a huge step for someone who has been with the team for the better part of 14 years. With the amount of pending free agents in Calgary at season’s end, the Flames need to seriously consider selling assets and moving into rebuilding mode. Although Iginla’s contract doesn’t expire until the end of next season, moving him this year makes sense for the club and for Iginla himself.
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