Jarome Iginla was the star of the 2013 NHL trade deadline. There was constant speculation as to where the longtime Calgary Flames captain would land, right up to the moment he was dealt to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Now, still without a Stanley Cup and set to become an unrestricted free agent, Iginla isn’t garnering half the attention he did just a few months ago.
That’s mostly due to other major NHL offseason stories: a few significant compliance buyouts, trade rumors involving key players, the draft, and news on other free agents. But, to a lesser extent, Iginla’s poor performance down the stretch in the 2013 playoffs could also be a reason for the media’s lack of interest in his future.
It wasn’t too long ago, in the years before Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin, that Iginla was one of the NHL’s top players. While he isn’t capable of playing at that level anymore, what can we expect from a 17-year veteran who will turn 36 on July 1?
He may only have a few good years left, but Iginla can still have an impact on the right team.
Enter the Los Angeles Kings.
Iginla seemed to have trouble adjusting to his new role with the Penguins, which are built around speed and finesse. The Kings, on the other hand, are a physical squad that depends on a strong forecheck and good team defense.
Iginla has experience playing for Darryl Sutter, who was the head coach in Calgary for parts of three seasons from 2002-03 to 2006. Iginla enjoyed one of his best seasons in 2004, scoring 41 goals and leading the Flames to within a game of the Stanley Cup.
At 6’1” and 210 pounds, Iginla can still play physical hockey and be effective along the boards and in the corners. As one of the NHL’s most consistent scorers since the early 2000s, Iginla still has a great shot and could work well on a line with Mike Richards or Jarret Stoll.
And don’t forget that Los Angeles was one of the preferable teams that Iginla listed prior to the trade deadline.
The Kings have 10 forwards under contract next season and a few free agents whom general manager Dean Lombardi will have to make decisions on. Kyle Clifford, Trevor Lewis and Jordan Nolan are restricted free agents, while Dustin Penner and Brad Richardson are unrestricted free agents.
Lombardi also has to sign a few defensemen, as he has just five under contract along with three restricted and one unrestricted free agents.
At this point the Kings already have $57.796 million against the cap next season, leaving them with about $6.5 million in cap space. That doesn’t leave much room to be active on the free-agent market, although things could change in the coming weeks with trades or buyouts, which would give the Kings more cap space.
Iginla isn’t going to earn anywhere near the $7 million per season he made on his last two contracts. And, if he wants to play on a Cup contender, he will likely need to take an even greater pay cut.
He could be a good fit in Los Angeles, where he would play alongside other veteran power forwards. And if the price is right, the Kings should take a long, hard look at the future Hall of Famer.
After all, the Kings appear poised for more deep playoff runs in the next couple of years, and Iginla is growing more and more desperate for a Stanley Cup.
Stats courtesy NHL.com.
Salary cap and contract information courtesy of Capgeek.com.