One of the most intriguing aspects of the "Jarome Iginla Derby" that is not getting a lot of attention is the possibility that the Calgary Flames captain wants a contract extension with the team that acquires him if he's moved before the April 3 NHL trade deadline.
Speaking on Tuesday's Hockey Central at Noon program on Sportsnet, Flames announcer Rob Kerr speculated on Iginla's willingness to be a "rental" player at the deadline.
"Another wrinkle today there's some belief out there that Jarome refuses to go anywhere as a rental, said Kerr. "That this has become a sign-and-trade type of deal, and does he want that provision."
Boston Globe columnist Kevin Paul Dupont also tweeted about a possible extension for Iginla on Monday:
If Iginla wants an extension, it could have a tremendous impact on which teams will be seriously involved in acquiring him and what type of trade assets general managers could be willing to part with.
Let's take a look at how a contract extension would impact a potential trade involving Iginla.
Salary Cap, Financial Reasons
The Flames star is in the final season of a five-year contract that is worth $7 million per season.
It's unlikely that Iginla would demand that same salary at this stage of his career, but anything less than $5 million seems unlikely since he's still a legitimate top-six forward capable of scoring 25-35 goals in a normal 82-game season.
This could be Iginla's last major contract, so it wouldn't be surprising if he signed a deal similar to the one that 36-year-old Phoenix Coyotes captain Shane Doan agreed to last summer, which was $21.2 million over four years.
Both the dollars and terms of his next extension could result in some potential suitors deciding to not pursue Iginla because they don't want to re-sign him due to salary cap reasons. Since the cap ceiling is dropping about $6 million to $64.3 million for the 2013-14 season, general managers need to be careful when adding salary to their payroll beyond this year.
Look at the Chicago Blackhawks, for example. They are one of the four teams reportedly (via TSN's Darren Dreger) on Iginla's alleged "trade list" and would be wise to add some more scoring depth before the deadline. However, their cap situation for next season makes it difficult for them to trade for the Flames captain if he wants an extension and a good-sized salary.
Chicago has four players with salary cap hits of $5.25 million above or over the next two seasons, and franchise forwards Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane are eligible for unrestricted free agency in the summer of 2015.
Acquiring Iginla and signing him to an extension could prevent the Blackhawks from re-signing some of their important players, such as second line center Dave Bolland (UFA, 2014), depth forwards Marcus Kruger (RFA, 2013) and Viktor Stalberg (UFA, 2013), defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson (UFA, 2014) and goaltenders Corey Crawford (UFA, 2014) and Ray Emery (UFA, 2013).
Of the four teams on Iginla's list, only the Boston Bruins have at least $7 million in cap space for 2013-14 with at least 17 players under contract (per Capgeek).
|Team||2013-14 Cap Space||Players Signed||Notable UFA/RFAs|
|Blackhawks||$5,189,038||17||Viktor Stalberg and Ray Emery are UFAs this summer. Niklas Hjalmarsson, Corey Crawford and Dave Bolland are UFAs in 2014.|
|Bruins||$7,021,905||17||Nathan Horton and Patrice Bergeron are UFAs in 2013 and 2014, respectively, while No. 1 goalie Tuukka Rask is an RFA in 2013.|
|Penguins||$11,441,667||15||Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang, Brooks Orpik and Chris Kunitz are UFAs in 2014.|
|Kings||$14,842,273||13||Dustin Brown is a UFA in 2014 and no one on the Kings blue line except Drew Doughty is signed beyond 2014. Backup goalie Jonathan Bernier is an RFA this summer.|
The team with the most favorable cap situation to work out a contract extension with Iginla is the Bruins, who could probably get a deal done if Rask's new contract isn't massive and Horton leaves via free agency. Boston could also put Marc Savard on the long-term injury reserve list, which would give the Bruins an additional $4,021,429 of cap space to work with.
Boston is one of the few Stanley Cup contenders who could re-sign Iginla without hurting their cap situation, which means the likelihood of the Flames captain being traded will probably be determined by what Calgary wants in return.
How Would an Iginla Extension Impact The Trade Package Calgary Receives?
When trading for rental players, general managers are often hesitant to part with elite prospects and established, young NHL players because if the player being acquired doesn't re-sign in a few months and leaves as a free agent, that team will have lost valuable assets for a two or three-month rental.
It's a risk that most GMs and owners don't like to take, and this is why teams rarely get full value when moving upcoming UFAs at the trade deadline.
According to Mark Spector of Sportsnet.ca, Calgary is looking for a substantial package in exchange for its best forward.
Iginla signing an extension with his new team, if he's traded, will likely be the most effective way for Flames general manager Jay Feaster to get as much value as possible for his star player.
If a team acquires Iginla and signs him to a new multi-year contract, it could justify parting with quality prospects because the Flames winger will still be a top-tier forward for a few more seasons, and in that time, his new club team could build up the depth of its prospect pool with draft picks and signings to be ready for when Iginla retires.
In his 16-year NHL career, Iginla has only played for the Flames, and even though he probably could have left Calgary several years ago when it was clear that the team needed a full rebuild, he remained loyal to the franchise.
With that said, it wouldn't be surprising if Iginla wanted to retire with the team he's traded to (if he's moved), especially since he's never tested free agency and wants to win a Stanley Cup before his career is over.
Nicholas Goss is an NHL Lead Writer at Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter. He was a credentialed reporter at the 2011 Stanley Cup Final and 2012 NHL playoffs in Boston.