When asked, Calgary Flames General Manager (GM) Jay Feaster has repeatedly asserted that Flames captain Jarome Iginla will not be traded at the NHL's trade deadline. However, for a team on the brink of missing the Stanley Cup playoffs for a second consecutive year, another April out of the playoffs will not sit well with Alberta's hockey-obsessed city's loyal throng.
If this scenario occurs, and Feaster receives an offer too spectacular to refuse, what then will it take to obtain one of the league's elite scoring wingers and leaders?
Here's what it will take to lure Iginla for each team's playoff run or future playoff prospects:
New Jersey: Zach Parise and Mattias Tedenby
Parise is currently injured (knee) but, when healthy, provides point-a-game scoring and is a bona fide elite winger. In Tedenby, the Flames would obtain a speedy and creative scoring winger. While this seems to be quite a bit to give up to obtain Iginla, having a an elite winger like Iginla to pair with New Jersey sniper Ilya Kovalchuck for the "future is now" Devils might be the elixir to make an improbable run, or position themselves for returning to the playoffs in the very near future.
New York Islanders: Nothing. Islander ownership will continue to not spend or take on any salary to improve the team's fortunes. Rather, they will continue to stockpile draft picks and hold onto the hope that they can generate some return on Rick DiPietro's 15-year contract award, which has been 4 1/2 years, little to show for it.
There are two variables in play, here. First, Edmonton would not trade with their hated rivals from the Alberta province. Second, Oiler GM Steve Tambellini has committed the direction and future of the organization towards youth and speed. Not that Iginla doesn't possess the former, but Tambellini wouldn't sacrifice the direction for a quick fix, albeit immediate impact player like Iginla.
However, if the Flames were willing to consider the Oilers tradeable assets possibly in play: Dustin Penner and Andrew Cogliano - and a prospect or 2nd round pick - it's possible they could entertain a possible trade. But a savvy GM like Jay Feaster could certainly garner a greater return for Iginla than this scenario.
Ottawa: Jason Spezza and Brian Lee
Sens GM Bryan Murray is definitely on the hot seat, "vote of confidence" be damned (we know how those usually end up). He has a scoring-impaired team, a very restless fanbase and two talented players that are either never to be embraced by the Sens faithful (Spezza) or a player deeply embedded in Murray's doghouse (Lee, a former 1st round draft pick, 9th overall in 2005).
Both players appear to be classic "change of scenery" guys. In Iginla, the Sens would acquire a player who would certainly re-energize Sens captain Daniel Alfredsson in the twighlight years of his career, plus someone who wouldn't let Sens' fans penchant for annointing their accepted "fan favorites" - see Spezza and Dany Heatley - bother him in the least.
Toronto: Kris Versteeg and Tomas Kaberle
I would have considered Phil Kessel in place of Versteeg but trading Kessel would be foolhardy, as Leafs GM Brian Burke has already mortgaged the future to acquire Kessel - so this is a pride/ego situation, an admission of failure. However, it's been rumored that Versteeg, a speedy wing who can provide stellar secondary scoring, is "in play" with regards to a tradeable commodity. Kaberle has long been rumored to be on the trading block, and reports that he may have waived his 'no trade clause' could make the chances he is dealt far more probable. Kaberle is an elite offensive defenseman and, if paired with Defenseman Jay Bouwmeester, could form one of the more lethal defensive pairings in the NHL, from an offensive standpoint.
In Iginla, Burke and the Leafs would acquire a speedy winger with the type of sandpaper grit that Burke cherishes in his teams - i.e. his Stanley Cup Championship Anaheim Ducks team of 2006. Also, bringing Iginla to the Leafs would reunite him with former teammate Dion Phaneuf and could form one of the least favorite teams to go up against from a physicality standpoint.
Florida Panthers: Tomas Vokoun and Bryan McCabe
Vokoun is still one the elite goaltenders in the NHL and would provide the Flames with an interesting goaltending situation, as workhorse Miikka Kiprusoff handles the primary netminding duties. A scenario such as this would probably result in a follow-up trade of Kiprusoff, who's recent play has put him in head coach Brent Sutter's doghouse. In McCabe, he provides an offensive defenseman would be reunited with Jay Bouwmeester as a defensive pairing, as they were with the Panthers during the 2008-2009 season. It should be noted that Vokoun has also been rumored to possibly be traded.
Obtaining Iginla would provide some offense for the offensive-challenged Panthers, who could also use a box-office draw in Iginla. Plus, it provides a franchise player for new Panthers GM Dale Tallon to build around, in his quest to turn around the Panthers' fortunes as he so masterfully did with the Blackhawks.
While adding a presence such as Iginla to a team who could certainly use another - or 20 - character guy with heart, Blue Jackets General Manager Scott Howson - the Webster's Dictionary's image for the definition of patience - or was it risk adversion? - would not entertain obtaining a player at the risk of mortgaging the team's future, if that's what you call it.
For a team very close to being both sellers at the trade deadline, not to mention primed for another draft lottery, you would think making a seismic trade would be necessary. Well, you don't know this organization - that's simply not going to happen.
If Howson were less risk adverse, a possible trade scenario would include Antoine Vermette and either Derek Brassard or Jakub Voracek, preferably Voracek, who would fit the Flames gritty mold more so than would Brassard.
Buffalo: Jason Pominville, Tim Connolly and Tyler Ennis
This 3 for 1 trade would certainly send shock waves throughout the NHL, but for a team like the Sabres who have struggled this season, particularly on the offensive end, acquiring an elite scoring winger like Iginla, who grit and leadership would certainly be welcomed, it could be worth the risk.
It is a 3, versus 2, for 1 trade only due to Tim Connolly's penchant for injuries as well as his sundial-esque ability to recover from injuries. In Pominville, the Flames would get a dependable scorer with point/game potential. In Ennis, they would acquire one of the more promising players in the NHL, something a team with one of the less stellar developmental programs could definitely use.
St. Louis Blues: TJ Oshie, Alex Pietrangelo and a 1st round draft pick
In Oshie, the Flames would acquire a gritty young player with scoring potential. In Pietrangelo, the Flames would acquire one of the finer young offensive defenseman, a perfect defensive pairing partner for Jay Bouwmeester.
In acquiring Iginla, the Blues would have an elite winger, with the kind of grit and penchant for physical play which would fit in perfectly at Scottrade Center. Also, as the Blues are desparately trying to make the playoffs, acquiring Iginla might be the spark that gets them there.
LA Kings: Justin Williams, Thomas Hickey and a 1st round pick
While the Kings would part with one of their leading scorers and their former 1st round pick in Hickey, one of the NHL's biggest dissapointments this season could use one of the NHL's biggest impact players in Iginla. Williams would provide the Flames with solid scoring, although concerns about his injury history could make Flames GM Feaster apprehesive about dealing for the scoring forward. Given that the Kings have granted Defenseman Jack Johnson a contract extension, it appears that Hickey might not be the heir apparent to be paired with elite defenseman Drew Doughty.
Iginla, if paired with Anze Kopitar, would form one of the most lethal 1st scoring lines in the NHL and would allow time for phenom Brayden Schenn to develop into an elite center on the Kings 2nd scoring line.
Colorado: Milan Hejduk, JM Liles and a 1st round pick
In Hejduk, it provides the Flames with a dependable scoring winger with Stanley Cup championship and playoff experience. In Liles, it provides a dependable scoring defenseman who could be paired with Jay Bouwmeester on their 1st defensive pairing group.
In acquiring Iginla, it would provide the Avs with a dependable, high energy, high scoring winger with great leadership, something such a young team could greatly benefit from, particularly in order to take that next steps towards returning to their former Stanley Cup glory.
It appears 'Canes GM Jim Rutheford learned a valuable lesson about holding on too long to a veteran unit, so it appears they are content with melding their elite, veteran players such as Eric Staal, Erik Cole and Joe Corvo with their young guns in Jeff Skinner, Zac Dalpe and Zach Boychuck.
Minnesota Wild: Nothing
The Wild, while definitely in the playoff mix, don't appear to have the type of tradeable assets that would interest the Flames in any way. The Wild are a team who struggles, offensively, deriving a great deal of their offensive scoring via the Power Play. Plus, in trying to transition to Jacques LeMaire's trapping, defense-first system to Todd Richards up-tempo system, it will require obtaining young, speedy forwards through the draft.
Atlanta Thrashers: Nothing
For once, the Thrashers appears to have a plan and a direction under GM Rick Dudley. They have, either via draft or recent trades, built a young corps capable of being a consistent Eastern Conference playoff participant, if not this season in the very near future.
San Jose: Nothing
While the Sharks have been one of the league's great dissapointments, they have recently been playing well. What the Sharks really need is a locker room presence who can allow them to move past the ghosts of playoffs past. While Iginla would certainly provide that, the Sharks don't have tradeable assets that would benefit their long-term rebuild efforts.
The Blackhawks do have needs, given their troubles in goal and to find consistent secondary scoring, but they also have salary cap issues, so acquiring a player with Iginla's salary would not be economically feasible.
Not that Phoenix wouldn't be a perfect fit of a player such as Iginla with their system, it's just that Phoenix doesn't have tradeable assets that would make the deal possible, save for captain Shane Doan, but that would create a PR nightmare, and the Coyotes can't afford to lose any of the hundreds of fans who attend their games.
The Ducks have been on a roll and are in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race. Beyond their stud 1st scoring line of Getzlaf, Ryan and Perry, the Ducks don't want to part with their remaining attractive, tradeable assets such as elite netminder Jonas Hiller or Calder Trophy contender Defenseman Cam Fowler.
When your leading scorer is a defenseman, even though it's one of the NHL's elite defenseman in Shea Weber, that tells you something about your organization's lack of scoring, particularly with its forward lines. Also, for a team with salary cap limitations such as the Predators have, acquiring an expensive player such as Iginla doesn't fit in their organization's plans, although he would certainly fit in with a team with the heart and grit that Nashville possesses.
If the Preds were to roll the dice with Iginla, it would require trading away former 1st round pick Colin Wilson, who's really coming along in his rookie campaign, along with the Preds 'next big thing' in goal, Anders Lindback.
This is another case of a team with tradeable assets, but not enough assets to acquire a player of Iginla's stature and abilities. However, to acquire Iginla, it would require something to the effect of Tomas Plekanec and Mike Cammalleri, but then what would the Habs be left with, scoring-wise, particularly for Iginla to play on their 1st line with?
New York Rangers: Brandon Dubinski, Wojtek Wolski and Michael Del Zotto
If you look at this trade, you would think only a fool would trade away all of these players, particularly their leading scorer in Dubinsky, for one player, but you don't know the New York Rangers. This is a deal tailor made for the "duo of doom" team of James Dolan and Glen Slather, who didn't find a salary cap or team dynamic they couldn't obliterate.
The Blueshirts would acquire an elite winger to match up with elite sniper Marian Gaborik - well, so long as he was healthy enough to work on the same line with Iginla. But if that happened, it would create a buzz not seen in Madison Square Garden since the Messier days.
The Flames would acquire a pair of scoring forwards in Dubinski and Wolski and would also have a young defenseman in Del Zotto who could be paired with Jay Bouwmeester on their first defensive pairing.
Washington: Niklas Backstrom
This trade would meet the criteria for a "future is now" move for the Capitals. While you part with an elite young center in Backstrom, you do acquire an elite forward with Stanley Cup experience and the type of leadership a team like the Capitals, who have dissapointed in the playoffs, year after year, could desparately use. And imagine the energy that pairing Iginla with Alexander Ovechkin could generate.
In return, the Flames would acquire a young, elite scoring center, one which could be the centerpiece of their rebuilding efforts.
Dallas: Nothing (If they cannot sign Brad Richards to a contract extension)
If the Stars cannot resign Richards, they could possibly attempt to trade Richards for Iginla in order to continue on their return to their former Western Conference elite status. However, if they do resign Richards, the Stars possess a solid arsenal of forward scoring lines along with a physical presence.
Beyond their depth at the forward position, the Stars do not have the level of tradeable assets for which a trade for Iginla could take place.
Boston: Nathan Horton and Tuukka Rask
While trading Horton away might seem a bit rash within one year of acquiring him, to obtain a player of Iginla's ability and leadership, it would be worth the risk. In Horton, it would provide the Flames a young, talented winger who is capable of scoring near the point/game range. In Rask, it would provide a solid, young netminder should Kiprusoff continue to struggle.
Acquiring Iginla might be the impetus that the Bruins need to take that next step towards a return to Stanley Cup glory.
For a veteran team like the Red Wings, for which Stanley Cup championship opportunities might be dwindling, not to mention salary cap constraints, a trade for Iginla does not appear feasible.
Pittsburgh: Evgeni Malkin
While Ray Shero probably wouldn't entertain such a trade offer, obtaining an elite winger like Iginla on Sidney Crosby's line would certainly strike fear into all Stanley Cup playoffs opponents.
And while Malkin has dissapointed a bit this season, his playoff performance in the Stanley Cup championship season of 2009 should not be discounted.
In acquiring Malkin, the Flames would obtain a cornerstone center for their rebuilding efforts.
Tampa Bay: Vincent LeCavlier and Pavel Kubina
The Lightning's turnaround has been one of the great success stories in the NHL. And while acquiring an elite scoring winger like Iginla would certainly not hurt their continued rise to power, trading away an elite scorer like Vinny LeCavlier, someone tailor made for Guy Boucher's "pedal to the metal" system, would seem illogical.
However, it would also probably require adding an offensive defenseman like Kubina for the trade to be feasible, something that again sidetracks something that's working so well, so far.
Philadelphia: Mike Richards and Matt Carle
For the team leading the Eastern Conference standings, and one who made it to the Stanley Cup finals, it would seem that the 'status quo' should continue to be maintained.
However, acquiring Iginla would seem to be the perfect fit for such a gritty, tight-knit bunch as the Flyers. As the Flyers currently possess three (3) 1st line centers, trading away one of them for an elite winger like Iginla would be what it takes. It would also take trading away Carle, who would immediately benefit the Flames defensive corps, particularly on the offensive end.
For the team who currently possesses the NHL's most points, along with a prolific arsenal, a solid defensive corps and a world-class goaltender in Roberto Luongo, not to mention a very tight salary cap situation, trading for Iginla would make absolutely no sense, not to mention that both teams are in the same division.