Iginla to Pittsburgh

174Jarome_Iginla._2008What just happened? I think that was the reaction of most hockey fans this morning when we found out that Iginla had been traded to the Penguins overnight. As of last night at midnight (CT), Iginla had been dealt to Boston according to TSN’s Aaron Ward. Many other writers and analysts on Twitter were reporting the same thing. After waiting all night to hear that the deal was official, I went to bed once I heard what Ward had to say. Wrong move on my part.

It was reported by numerous people all night last night that Iginla had been dealt to the Bruins in exchange for two prospects: Alexander Khokhlachev and Matt Bartkowski. Along with Iginla, both Khokhlachev and Bartkowski were late scratches from the lineup before their game last night. Understandably so, this led many people to believe that a deal with Calgary was done, or almost done. Apparently the latter is what was true.

As the night progressed, more and more people began saying that Iginla was a Bruin. Heck, even Claude Julien (Boston’s head coach) said in his postgame interview after last night’s loss that he pulled a few guys into his office before the game to notify them that they had acquired Iginla. It was still later in the night that Aaron Ward said the deal was “official.”

Then, around 1:30am (Eastern time I believe), Pittsburgh apparently made one last offer to Calgary for Iginla. The odd part is that Pittsburgh’s offer was not as good of an offer as the one the Bruins put together. Yet, Calgary at the last minute backed out of its talks with Boston and accepted the Penguins proposal. Calgary will receive prospects Kenneth Agostino and Ben Hanowski, both still in college, as well as Pittsburgh’s first round draft pick in this summer’s draft.

So why would Calgary accept Pittsburgh’s offer? Well, it is being reported that Iginla wanted to be a Penguin all along during this whole process and that Calgary was trying to use the other 3 teams on Iginla’s “list” to get the Penguins to make a better offer. If the Flames made it look as though they were seriously considering trading Iginla to Boston, Chicago, or L.A., they were hoping that Pittsburgh would be forced to increase their offer. I’m not sure that that’s what actually ended up happening, but nonetheless, Iginla is a Penguin.

After trading for Brendan Morrow and Douglas Murray earlier this week and now trading for Jarome Iginla, I think it is safe to call the Penguins the favorites to win the Stanley Cup. That team is stacked. They got tougher, they got bigger, and they got more skilled (yes, that last part apparently was possible). Odds are that they will place Iginla on their second line with Evgeni Malkin who is a better center than anyone Iginla had ever played with in Calgary.

While I am definitely disappointed that my team, the Blackhawks, did not get Iginla, I can only imagine what Bruins fans are going through right now. The last 15 hours for those people have not been good, to say they least. First, they lose in a shootout to their biggest rival, the Canadiens (and lose their division lead), then they wake up this morning to find out that Iginla is a Penguin, not a Bruin. You want to talk about going from bad news to worse news…

It will be interesting to see which teams make moves to try and counter Pittsburgh, and not just in the Eastern Conference. No one will be able to make as many big moves as the Penguins, but teams like Boston and Chicago (among others) will be looking to improve their rosters between now and April 3rd, and they’ll have to if they want to beat Pittsburgh in a 7-game series.

Iginla to the Blackhawks?

jarome-iginla-featuredThis past weekend, Jarome Iginla made a list of 4 teams that he would accept a trade to if the Flames decide to part ways with their captain. The 4 teams on that list, according to TSN’s Darren Dreger, are Boston, Chicago, L.A., and Pittsburgh. All 4 teams are legitimate Stanley Cup contenders. With Pittsburgh’s acquisition of Brendan Morrow yesterday, one would have to assume that they are no longer going to be trying to trade for Iginla, shortening that list to just 3 teams now. So now the question becomes, what jersey will Iginla be wearing come 2 weeks from now?

The NHL trade deadline is April 3rd, and Jarome Iginla is probably the biggest name being mentioned in trade talks. Assuming that the Penguins are done trading after acquiring Morrow, that leaves us with either Boston, Chicago, or L.A. as possible destinations for Iginla. Being the Blackhawks fan that I am, let’s take a look at what it would take for the Hawks to get Iginla.

Calgary has made it clear that they want at least one first round pick, plus a couple prospects, and/or a current player off an NHL roster in return for Jarome Iginla. Not many teams would be willing to give up that much for a 35 year old player who is in the last year of his contract. However, Iginla is the type of player that could really help a team win the Stanley Cup. In the case of the Blackhawks, he is exactly what they need: a big, physical forward who can score goals.

Going based off what Calgary wants in return for Jarome, the Hawks would probably need to trade away a first round pick, two top prospects, and a player off their current roster. It is rumored that the Flames want Brandon Saad as part of a deal with the Hawks, but that simply won’t happen. My guess is that if the Hawks really do go hard after Iginla, they would be offering something like Brandon Pirri, Mark McNeil/Jimmy Hayes/Jeremy Morin, and a guy like Stalberg or Frolik off their current NHL roster, as well as a future first round draft pick. Odds are that Calgary would lobby hard for Stalberg over Frolik in this deal.

Keep in mind that Viktor Stalberg and Bryan Bickell are both unrestricted free agents after this season, and the Hawks may not be able to re-sign both of them. That makes trading Stalberg a little easier to get over. As much as I don’t want to see Stalberg get traded, I think it would be worth it for Iginla in return.

So what would Jarome Iginla do for the Hawks?

Right now, arguably the biggest weakness of the Blackhawks is their lack of size and physicality. This was made evident in last year’s playoffs and against some bigger teams jarome-iginla-jamie-benn-2010-12-23-21-40-23like the Ducks this year. Iginla is big guy (6’1″, 210 lbs.) and isn’t afraid to hit people. He has often been regarded as one of the tougher guys in the league over the past decade. The Blackhawks could really use a big, physical forward who can contribute on the offensive end. Right now they have some bigger guys like Bickell and Bollig, but neither one is really considered a dual threat. If you place Iginla on one of the top two lines of the Blackhawks, he is going to bring some much needed physical play to the top of that lineup.

Along with his physicality, Iginla is a great locker room presence. He has been the captain of the Flames since 2003 and knows how to be a leader. Not that the Hawks need another leader (they have plenty), but it couldn’t hurt.

Some people question whether or not Iginla could be effective in the Blackhawks lineup because of their team speed, and Iginla’s lack thereof. The Hawks style of play revolves around their team speed and getting out on fast breaks and odd-man rushes. Jarome Iginla is more of a net-front presence (which the Hawks lack) who is much more effective in a half ice style of game. What I mean by that is Iginla is not going to be beating opposing players up and down the ice. Instead, he is much more effective in offensive zone play. He parks himself in front of the net, screens the goalie, and cleans up the rebounds. In a way, he is pretty similar to what Dustin Byfuglien was with the Hawks during their Stanley Cup run.

If the Hawks were to get Iginla, here is what their lines might look like (minus Stalberg):

Saad-Toews-Hossa

Kane-Sharp-Iginla

Bickell-Bolland-Shaw

Frolik-Kruger-Carcillo/Bollig/Mayers

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Quenneville put Sharp back at the number 2 center position like he did when they won the Cup 3 years ago. Some say Kane might move to that spot, but I completely disagree with that. As you can see though, Iginla would instantly make the Hawks a better team and a much tougher team in terms of physicality (and offense for that matter).

This trade is a long ways off from happening, but it is not unrealistic. If I were Stan Bowman, I would do everything I could to complete this trade without hurting the Hawks’ future. For the time being, however, all we can do is hope and speculate.

The deadline is just over a week away, so stay tuned.