NHL Trade Speculation: 5 Top Candidates to Land Jarome Iginla in 2012-13
As he enters the final year of his five-year, $35 million contract that started in the 2008-09 season, Iginla's future remains a mystery.
Will he re-sign with the Flames, retire with the team and display a level of loyalty seldom seen in today's game? Or will he request a trade to a Stanley Cup contender in pursuit of the championship that has eluded him thus far in his Hall of Fame worthy career?
If he is ultimately traded, what can the Flames expect in return? That will depend on which teams are willing to give up some key parts of their future to acquire him, but in a shortened season, there could a larger amount of teams willing to make a bold move.
A package including a first round pick, and a choice of a top prospect or an established NHL player should be enough to acquire Iginla.
Let's look at the top five candidates to land Iginla before the 2013 trade deadline.
5. Washington Capitals
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The Capitals could be one premier goal scorer away from making it to the Stanley Cup Final next season. Iginla would be a fantastic replacement for Alexander Semin in the Capitals' top-six forward group.
Iginla's leadership, and the class he shows on and off the ice would make a positive impact on a Capitals team that needs more veteran leadership.
Before making a deal for a veteran such as Iginla, Washington would have to determine how close they are to winning the Stanley Cup.
Giving up a top prospect such as Tom Wilson or Filip Forsberg in a potential deal for Iginla could backfire if the team acquires the Flames captain but does not go far in the playoffs.
It's a risk that the team might not want to take.
However, after having a very successful 2012 draft, the Capitals do have strong organizational depth at a few different positions. This may be the time to roll the dice and make a real run for a Stanley Cup.
A top line of Ovechkin, Iginla and Backstrom would be a lot of fun to watch.
4. New York Rangers
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The acquisition of Rick Nash, who played well with Iginla on the 2010 Canadian Olympic team, might be enough to satisfy New York Rangers' scoring needs, but injuries could force the Blueshirts to add another top-six forward around the trade deadline.
The problem for general manager Glen Sather is that acquiring Iginla would be very difficult without giving up one or two of his best young NHL players.
Forward Chris Kreider and defenseman Ryan McDonagh would likely be two players that the Flames would be interested in, but it's hard to see Sather giving up either of them for a player as old as Iginla.
The Rangers do play a physical game, and there's no doubt Iginla would be a spectacular fit in New York, but I don't see the two sides being able to work out a deal that both are happy with.
3. Vancouver Canucks
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After missing out on free agent Shane Doan this summer after he re-signed with the Phoenix Coyotes, the Vancouver Canucks still haven't added the scoring depth and toughness that their roster currently lacks.
In a shortened season, Iginla's scoring could be enough to give the Canucks an advantage over the rest of the Western Conference's contenders. He would also be the star winger that second-line center Ryan Kesler currently does not have on his line.
Vancouver could use top goaltender prospect Eddie Lack, as well as forwards Brendan Gaunce and Nicklas Jensen in a possible deal for Iginla.
However, trading Iginla to a division rival, and thus having to face him several times each season, would not be ideal for the Flames. This is one stumbling block that could prevent him from going to the Canucks.
2. Pittsburgh Penguins
Jarome Iginla and Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby will forever be remembered for one of Canada's greatest hockey moments of all time. It was Iginla that assisted on Crosby's gold medal winning goal against the United States at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
There's little reason to believe these two stars wouldn't have good chemistry if they played on the same line full time.
Since Evgeni Malkin has James Neal, a star winger capable of scoring 30-plus goals, alongside him, the Penguins would be wise to get Crosby a similar kind of player for his line.
The question for Pittsburgh is how much do they give up for Iginla? How many top defenseman prospects should be considered in a possible trade? Calgary's lack of high-end defensemen in their organization is a problem, and if veteran blueliner Jay Bouwmeester is traded anytime soon, the team will really need some defensive help.
Simon Despres, Joe Morrow and Derrick Pouliot would probably be the three young defensemen that the Flames would covet the most. Each one of them has the potential to be a solid NHL player.
The Penguins aren't one of the more physical teams in the East, but Iginla would be comfortable in Pittsburgh with fellow Team Canada members Marc-Andre Fleury and Crosby.
1. Boston Bruins
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If Iginla joined the Bruins today, he would immediately become the team's best pure goal scorer. In the event that Nathan Horton, or any of the other top six forwards on the Bruins roster gets hurt this season, Iginla would be the ideal fit on the wing in Boston.
The Bruins players would want to win for Iginla, much like the Colorado Avalanche team that brought its level of determination to new heights after acquiring Ray Bourque from Boston in 2000.
Boston's need for an elite goal scorer, combined with the exceptional leadership Iginla can provide the team, make the Bruins the best option for the veteran winger.
What can Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli offer the Flames for Iginla? Top line forward David Krejci, who is the popular name at the moment in Bruins trade speculation, is one star player who could address Calgary's weakness at center. Forward prospects Jared Knight and Ryan Spooner could also be used in a potential deal.
If the Bruins were really desperate for an offensive player of Iginla's caliber, first-round pick Malcolm Subban might be a prospect who the Flames could consider as the eventual replacement for goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff.
The Bruins need a player like Iginla, and the team's environment and style of play are a great match for him. Boston is the most logical destination for the Flames captain if he's traded before the deadline.
Nicholas Goss is an NHL Lead Writer at Bleacher Report. He was also the organization's on-site reporter for the 2011 Stanley Cup Final in Boston. Follow him on Twitter.