Following months of speculation, it looks as if Calgary Flames captain and future Hall of Famer Jarome Iginla could be headed to the Boston Bruins. Although no official announcement has been made, the signs seem to say that Iginla has played his final game in a Flames uniform.
On Monday, Iginla notified Flames GM Jay Feaster that he would approve a trade to Boston, Pittsburgh, Chicago or Los Angeles. Its no coincidence that the list included the last four Stanley Cup Champions, as the fading star seeks to engrave his name on hockey's most holy relic.
In the wake of Pittsburgh's acquisition of veteran winger Brendan Morrow, Boston has become the odds-on favorite to land the 36-year-old star to jump start their sputtering offense. The Bruins hopes enjoyed another boost with the LA Kings dropping out of the race, according to Gary Lawless of the Winnipeg Free Press.
Amidst the swirling rumors, the Calgary Flames made the telling decision to hold their captain out of Wednesday night's clash with the Colorado Avalanche, perhaps implying that a deal is at hand.
TSN's Bob Mckenzie offered the following take on Iginla's surprise absence from the lineup:
I'm told Jarome Iginla will not be dressed tonight vs. COL but that doesn't necessarily mean deal is imminent or close. Protecting the asset
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) March 27, 2013
It is widely believed that Calgary is seeking a first-round pick and two prospects in exchange for the face of their franchise, whose contract expires at the end of the season. So it is noteworthy that several Boston prospects also found themselves scratched on Wednesday.
According to Mckenzie, NHL ready defenseman Matt Bartkowski was scratched from Boston's pivotal Northeast Division clash with Montreal, and top prospect Alexander Khokhlachev was also omitted from the Providence Bruins lineup.
Could it be that Boston GM Peter Chiarelli has agreed or at least offered to send a first-round pick, Bartkowski and Khokhlachev to Calgary in exchange for Iginla?
Such an offer would certainly demand consideration from Jay Feaster. Though he may have preferred to acquire promising young netminder Malcolm Subban, who was declared off-limits by Peter Chiarelli on Wednesday according to CSNNE's Joe Haggerty, Khokhlachev is an eye catching young talent.
The 19-year-old forward was selected 40th overall in the second round of the 2011 NHL draft and has split time between the OHL, KHL and AHL over the past few years, making plenty of time to represent his home nation of Russia as one half of a lethal partnership with Nail Yakupov.
Though a brief stint with the KHL's Spartak Moscow last fall proved difficult for the youngster, a return to the Windsor Spitfires of the OHL saw the high-octane winger post 48 points in 29 games before answering the call of the Providence Bruins.
"Koko," as he is known, has the highest offensive upside of any Boston prospect and looks to be a top-six forward down the road.
Meanwhile, Matt Bartkowski is prepared to make an impact almost immediately. The 24-year-old former Ohio State Buckeye has seen NHL ice 10 times in his blossoming career while enjoying three strong seasons with the Providence Bruins.
The physical Pittsburgh-native lacks elite upside, but has the ability to contribute at both ends of the rink and he should be ready for a regular NHL role by next season, if not next week.
If Jarome Iginla is indeed Beantown-bound, he should make an immediate impact. Though the Bruins have maintained their usual defensive standards, the offense has disappointed at times this season.
Perhaps the addition of the gritty and experienced forward, who has more than 500 goals and 1,000 points to his name, is just what Claude Julien's bruising bunch needs to hoist their second Stanley Cup in three seasons.