Jarome Iginla can be a difference-maker for any contending team.
The Calgary Flames should have been in the rebuilding mode at least two seasons ago.
The Flames have not been to the Stanley Cup playoffs since the 2008-09 season and haven't won a playoff series since getting to the Stanley Cup Final in 2003-04.
However, Calgary general manager Jay Feaster has long held to the notion that his team is not that far away and if the Flames were able to snag the eighth and last playoff spot in the Western Conference, they would actually be capable of pulling off a run like the Los Angeles Kings did last year when they captured the Stanley Cup.
That has never been a realistic assessment because the Flames don't have anywhere near the talent of the Kings.
Whether Feaster realizes that or not is questionable. However, he can look at the standings and come to the conclusion that it would basically take a miracle for the Flames to make the playoffs.
The Flames have assets to sell and Jarome Iginla is almost certainly the most valuable. The Flames and their fans realize that it's nearly a certainty that Iginla will be traded before the April 3 deadline (source: calgarysun.com).
Here are five reasons why this is the season the Flames trade their long-time star.
The Calgary Flames are in 14th place in the Western Conference.
They would have to leapfrog six teams in order to find themselves in eighth place and earn a chance to face the top seed in the first round of the playoffs.
The Flames have only won 12 of their first 30 games and they seem incapable of competing on the road. The Flames are 3-9-2 in games away from their precious Saddledome.
The Flames are not a good team and they haven't been for a very long time. They often try to fool their fans by competing hard and enduring a lot of close losses.
That doesn't change the fact that they are among the worst teams in the league.
As a result, they don't need to keep Iginla when he would be much more valuable to them in a trade.
Since four teams are in the running for Iginla—Boston, Pittsburgh, Chicago and Los Angeles—the Flames are likely to get a premium price for their star. A combination of prospects and draft picks in return for Iginla would serve the Flames well for the future.
Goal scoring is often at a premium in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Any team that adds Iginla would be adding a player who has been one of the league's dominant scorers. Iginla has scored 525 goals during his career and he has scored 30 or more goals in his last 11 full seasons.
Iginla has nine goals in this truncated season and that has led some observers to think the 35-year-old is starting to slow down. However, he is a force in front of the net and still has a wicked wrist shot.
Iginla's ability to put the puck in the net could make him a significant difference-maker for any team that has Stanley Cup aspirations.
Jarome Iginla has a lot more going for him than just his ability to put the puck in the net.
He is a hard-nosed player who is not afraid to stand up for himself and his teammates. He will go into the corner, take an elbow and make a play.
He will drop the gloves and fight if it is required.
He is a team-first player who will have a significant presence in the locker room.
Iginla has been playing in the NHL since 1996-97 and he has not won a Stanley Cup.
He has played the game the right way and it would obviously mean a lot for his new teammates to help him get the Stanley Cup that he deserves.
He would not be a passenger on the ride. He would provide direction and talent to help his new team get to the promised land.
Jarome Iginla is in the last year of a contract that is paying him $7 million (prorated) this season.
At the end of the 2013 season, Iginla will be a free agent.
That means he can sign with any team that wants him, including the Calgary Flames if both parties want to go in that direction.
Even if Iginla does not want to stay in Calgary, trading him prior to the April 3 deadline means the Flames would get something in return for him leaving.
If they don't trade him and he leaves, they get nothing for him.
That makes trading Iginla the prudent thing for the Flames to do.
Jarome Iginla has been a loyal member of the Calgary Flames since the 1996-97 season.
He has given the Flames every bit of his talent and they have been rewarded with stellar play. Iginla has been rewarded with handsome compensation by the Flames.
Nobody really knows what goes on under the surface, but the relationship between Iginla and the Flames appears to have been an excellent one.
Much like the relationship between Ray Bourque and the Boston Bruins was for so many years. When Bourque was nearing the end of his career, the Bruins traded Bourque to the Colorado Avalanche to give him a chance to win the Stanley Cup he never earned with the Bruins.
It worked out for Bourque, as the Avs won the Stanley Cup in 2001. Bourque lifted the cup (above) and then promptly retired.
Iginla deserves the same chance.