It seems like we go through this every year, doesn’t it? The NHL trade deadline approaches and right on cue Jarome Iginla’s name starts surfacing in various rumor hubs around the Internet. Will this be the year Iginla and the Flames finally part ways?
It seems like the NHL trade deadline has borrowed a strategy used by a soap opera, constantly recycling storylines year after year. The Iginla story is one that was played out years ago and now is one the keeps showing up on schedule as soon as the deadline approaches.
Here we will add another article to the Internet pile, analyzing the arguments for and against moving Iginla out of Calgary.
Why an Iginla Trade Makes Sense
Jarome Iginla is skating in his 15th NHL season, all of which he has spent with the Calgary Flames. Since his debut in the 1996-97 NHL season, Iginla has consistently averaged around a point-per-game, scoring 1,048 points in 1,159 games. Iginla became the 10th player in NHL history to score 30 or more goals in 10 consecutive seasons.
This offensive consistency mixed with his tenacity on the ice and sheer volume of games played in Calgary have made Iginla the face of the franchise, and earned him the captaincy prior to the 2003-04 season.
With Iginla as the face of their franchise (more specifically as captain), what has Calgary accomplished? Upon being named captain, Iginla carried the Flames to the 2004 Stanley Cup Finals, ultimately falling to the Tampa Bay Lightning four games to three. Despite their defeat, Iginla was widely considered to be one of if not the best player in the NHL.
However, despite Calgary making the postseason several times since their 2004 run, Iginla and his cast of teammates have been unable to win the ultimate prize. In their last five campaigns dating back to 2006-07 the Flames have made the playoffs three times, each time failing to get past the Conference Quarterfinals. The Flames failed to make the playoffs in 2009-10 and in 2010-11.
When a franchise isn’t achieving or playing at the level they think they should be, it’s time to make changes. Iginla’s name always emerges first as he is the face of a franchise that hasn’t met their fans expectations in the past couple seasons. Prior to any action on Tuesday, February 7th, the Flames find themselves in 11th place with 55 points in 53 games. It’s clear the Flames need to make changes but is Iginla the piece that needs to be moved?
Dealing Iginla would be a bold statement by the Calgary Flames. The Flames would get a nice return on an Iginla trade, likely receiving several quality players in return and potentially one or more high-end picks. However, any potential move would send a shock wave through the organization that would likely carry more of an impact than any received players or picks. It would be a sign of change and transformation that a stagnate Calgary franchise could use in their efforts to return to the NHL’s elite.
Why an Iginla Trade Doesn’t Make Sense
Players like Jarome Iginla don’t come around often. Iginla mixes strong offensive skills with a large frame that makes him an intimidating physical presence on the ice.
Dating back to the 2002-03 season, Iginla has averaged 38.75 goals a year for the Flames. With scoring a prized and rare commodity in the NHL, the Flames might be foolish to deal their best forward. Even if the Flames received a large haul for their top man, it’s unclear when or if their return would pay off.
While dealing Iginla would be a strong statement, is that sort of statement worth losing Iginla’s production? That’s the endless debate we have every season.
It’s also worth noting that it’s tough to pin Calgary’s inability to win a Cup on Iginla’s production. We’ve seen Iginla go through some slow stretches but overall Iginla has been a source of consistent high-powered offense. Calgary’s woes lie in the players surrounding Iginla, not with Iginla himself. The better strategy for Calgary would be to surround their number one man with a better cast rather than dealing Iginla and starting from scratch.