NHL Trade Rumors: Latest Rink Buzz on Jarome Iginla, Phil Kessel and More

Josh BenjaminCorrespondent IMarch 7, 2013

Mar 11, 2012; St. Paul, MN, USA; Calgary Flames forward Jarome Iginla (12) against the Minnesota Wild at the Xcel Energy Center. The Flames defeated the Wild 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

The NHL trade deadline is just a few weeks away, and teams looking to make that final push in a shortened season could be looking to deal as soon as Thursday. Such is the case in an abbreviated campaign, as there is little time for patience or waiting out slumps.

In Calgary, a team icon's days with the franchise could be numbered. A tough road ahead combined with slow production from Jarome Iginla could lead to a deal, and his recent hot streak has his value higher than normal.

Head east to Toronto, and Phil Kessel is on the block once again. At this point, it's time for Toronto management to just make a decision on his future and save fans the anxiety.

Oh, and could Pittsburgh be on the verge of a move as well?

The rumor mill is a-buzzing, so let's hit the ice and see which of your favorite rink stars could soon be changing teams.


Pittsburgh Interested in Jack Johnson?

The Pittsburgh Penguins are currently the No. 2 team in the Eastern Conference, but some help on defense couldn't hurt. Columbus Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen recently took in a game in Pittsburgh, fueling speculation from Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review that Pittsburgh GM Ray Shero could be on the hunt for Columbus defenseman Jack Johnson.

Johnson has not performed particularly well this season, tallying just two goals and seven assists and posting a plus-minus of minus-nine.

Though he could be a solid fit for the Penguins, Kekalainen spoke to Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Post-Dispatch and labeled the idea as "silly."

Just the same, Columbus would surely love to be rid of Johnson's contract, which pays him $3.5 million over this season and the next. Despite what Kekalainen has said, keep an eye on Johnson's name in the coming weeks.


Phil Kessel On Trading Block...Again

The Toronto Maple Leafs have looked solid this season, but the same cannot be said for winger Phil Kessel. The 25-year-old has tallied 17 points on the season but has just five goals.

Over his last 11 games, he has scored just three times. This is unacceptable for someone who was drafted fifth overall and touted as a top scorer.

According to Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe, it's growing more and more likely that Toronto GM Dave Nonis will look to unload Kessel at the deadline because though he has gotten better in each of his three seasons with the Maple Leafs, he hasn't really done much to set himself apart from the rest of the pack. He shows up and plays, and that's basically it.

The good thing is that if Kessel is indeed traded, Toronto would get back a great deal of talent in return. Thus, Nonis should definitely start working the phones.


Jarome Iginla Flaming Out in Calgary?

For as long as I or any NHL fan can remember, Jarome Iginla has been a staple in Calgary Flames history. He helped lead the team to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2004 and is their all-time leader in goals (522) and points (1,089).

However, despite scoring five goals and tallying six points over his last five games, Iginla has not been much of a factor this season. He is starting to slow down at age 35, and though the Flames are only four points out of the last playoff spot in the Western Conference, Calgary needs to get younger. That could mean trading their captain at the deadline.

According to Bruce Garrioch of the Calgary Sun, the Pittsburgh Penguins are interested in acquiring Iginla to play alongside Sidney Crosby. The team's fast-paced offensive game would definitely be a strong fit for the veteran winger, but heading to the Steel City is anything but guaranteed. Garrioch also reports that the Boston Bruins and San Jose Sharks are among the interested teams.

Much of the speculation surrounding this rumor likely depends on how much longer Iginla can keep up his hot streak. If he maintains his current production and is an offensive force, then it really doesn't make sense for the Flames to move him unless a top replacement can be acquired in exchange.

Otherwise, if this recent streak is just a mere flash of greatness, Flames GM Jay Feaster may soon have to start listening to offers and find the right deal.