Just into the first hour of Thursday, March 28th, the Calgary Flames traded the face of the franchise, Jarome Iginla, to the Pittsburgh Penguins. On the way back to Calgary are Kenneth Agostino, and Ben Hanowski, two NCAA prospects, as well as the Penguins’ first round pick this year. With this trade comes speculation to both clubs; now that the Flames have accepted a rebuild, who will Jay Feaster deal next? How good are these Penguins going to be in the next few years? Is Ray Shero even done stacking the conference-leading Pens?
- Just How Good Are The Penguins Now?
As the deadline nears, the first-place Penguins add another established forward to their lineup. One week ago, Brenden Morrow and Jarome Iginla were the faces of two different franchises. Now, they are united, as well as stay-at-home D-man Douglas Murray. With three big moves coming out of the Penguins camp this soon, it raises the question: How bad do the Pens want the Stanley Cup in 2013? The answer seems very bad. Although there are still five long days until the deadline, there are no bigger moves expected then the ones the Penguins management have negotiated in the last four days. The scariest part to fans of any other team, is that these established players join a core of players that included three of the league’s leading scorers, a phenomenal young defenseman, and a young, solid goaltender. These players join a club currently on a thirteen-game win streak. These players join a club that has won a Stanley Cup before, and have brought back many players from that run. These players join a club that is now the runaway favourite to win the Stanley Cup. It isn’t hard to see Pittsburgh going all the way, as playing in the east comes with an easier travel schedule, and inferior teams to those in the West Even with all these blockbuster trades, Ray Shero and co. still have a little bit of cap space to work with. They may go after another veteran defenseman, to round out a top 4 that includes Kris Letang, or a youthful forward to boost the third or fourth line, and help fill the gap left by the departed Jordan Stall. They have not spoken on any future deals, but there is a realistic chance that the Iginla move may not be the last time we see the black and gold on the trade block. . Even though these three trades in the past four days are all “now” trades, the Pens have not given up any roster players. Out of the two prospects the Pens off-loaded Thursday, only one was ranked in the club’s top 10. Morrow, Iginla and Murray each have a minimum of 3 years of quality play left in their career. With the help of a young captain, star forwards, and goaltender, Pittsburgh may become hockey’s next dynasty.
- Did The Blackhawks Miss Out?
Thankfully for the Blackhawks faithful, an Iginla trade to Pittsburgh does not affect them, because the Hawks would not face them unless they see each other in the Finals, which is a strong possibility. Both teams are leading their respective conferences, and are known for having the best core groups of players in the league. However, earlier this week, Iginla placed Chicago on the short-list of destinations for the captain, along with Boston, L.A., and Pittsburgh. Rumors started to swirl around Stan Bowman, with some saying he was trying to get a deal in place that included the likes of Dave Bolland, and Viktor Stalberg. If that trade was to go through, the Hawks could lose several valuable players, and would be left with an acclaimed 35-year-old Right Winger. Iginla could have slotted in on the left side with Patrick Kane, and Jimmy Hayes would most likely become a permanent fixture on the third line. Stan Bowman would then have to shop for a second-line center, or look within the organization for a suitable replacement. Would this trade have been worth the Blackhawks time and assets? The early answer is no. The Hawks’ bottom six forwards have quietly done a great job this season, winning puck possession, wearing the opponent out on the forecheck, and have even showed up on the scoreboard as recently as Monday night, where Michael Frolik had a three-point night. Iginla would have no doubt been a huge addition to the Chicago lineup. However, the chemistry between the Hawks’ second and third lines would have taken a hit, and coach Joel Quenneville would be forced to do something he has avoided for the majority of the year, and that is shuffling his deck of forwards. As long as Stalberg re-signs this summer, him and Bolland are worth a lot more long-term than Iginla, who could only give a few more years of service.
- What Does This Trade Mean For The Flames?
Ever since last season, it had appeared that a rebuild in Calgary was imminent, and Jay Feaster along with Flames management were unable to accept it. It seems they have now, as they ship away a player that has given them 16 years of service. Now that the face of the franchise is gone, Calgary could also give up veteran goalie Miikka Kiprusoff, as well as ironman defenseman Jay Bouwmeester. As they currently sit in the basement of the Western Conference without their Captain, the Flames have appeared to have thrown in the towel for the 2013 campaign, and are looking for youthful, NHL-ready players, draft picks, and prospects that could be making the jump as early as next season. A good assumption would be that they are going to try to surround forwards Michael Cammalleri and Jiri Hudler with what will turn out to be the new-look Flames franchise.
Although the Penguins look like Cup champions on paper already, teams such as the Bruins, Blackhawks, and Ducks are performing just as well, and cannot be counted out just yet. With 16 games remaining in the season, time will be the judge of Penguins success with these new additions, or lack thereof.
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