As trade winds began to intensify late last week, mostly centered on the topic of Calgary Flames’ captain Jarome Iginla, Boston was buzzing at the possibility of the hometown B’s landing a superstar forward to add to their already strong mix of proven playoff veterans. With the deadline looming just one week from now on Wednesday April 3, Boston general manager Peter Chiarelli will have to get something done pretty quickly, if the Bruins hope to be back in contention for their second Stanley Cup in three years when the playoffs roll around in just less than five weeks’ time. Including Iginla, here’s a look at my thoughts on each of the forwards that have been rumored to be available, and how each would fit here in Boston.
Jarome Iginla – RW – Calgary Flames
Well, let’s start with the obvious. The B’s and Iginla have been connected with one another for more than a year now, with Flames’ GM Jay Feaster remaining reluctant to part with the superstar who’s been with Calgary throughout his entire 16-year career. However, it now appears as if the Flames have come back to reality and will pursue a deal for their captain, signaling a long overdue rebuild in Southeast Alberta. For a team like Boston who’s been struggling to score as of late, Iginla – who’s scored 30-plus goals in the last 11 consecutive seasons – would seem like the perfect fit. At the age of 35, he’s certainly not the player he once was, but could still provide a tremendous offensive spark for the Bruins as he can still play with a physical edge and most importantly, put the puck in the net. Another benefit to acquiring Iginla would be the added flexibility it could give the Bruins in the offseason when his $7 MIL salary comes off the books.
However, the price to acquire a player of Iginla’s ilk certainly isn’t cheap and may be the largest roadblock standing in the way of a potential Iginla-to-Boston deal. If the B’s were somehow able to land Iginla without surrendering more than one of their A-level prospects, they’d be in good shape. Those that I would consider “A-level” include Ryan Spooner, Alexander Khokhlachev and goaltender Malcolm Subban.
Marty St. Louis – RW – Tampa Bay Lightning
From one NHL franchise icon in the Northwest to another in the Southeast, Tampa Bay’s Martin St. Louis is another name the B’s have been connected with over the past few days. The pint-sized winger from Laval, Quebec continues to defy the laws of aging while skating alongside the phenomenally talented Steven Stamkos, racking up 42 points (8 goals/34 assists) in just 32 games this season. Over the course of a full 82-game schedule, that would set St. Louis on a pace for 20 goals and a whopping 84 assists. Even at age 37, there’s no question that St. Louis remains one of the NHL’s elite playmakers and could have a huge impact with the Bruins, especially on the power-play.
Unfortunately, like Iginla in Calgary, St. Louis has become the face of the franchise in Tampa along with team captain Vincent Lecavalier. That fact alone makes St. Louis much more valuable to the Lightning organization than just what he can do on the ice. With head coach Guy Boucher being fired over the weekend, roster changes could be on the horizon in Tampa as the Bolts will likely be sellers at the deadline for a second consecutive season. The B’s may be able to acquire St. Louis for a lesser price than Iginla simply because of the additional two seasons left on his contract ($5.625 MIL per year). If Chiarelli can bring in St. Louis without giving up any of the three A-level prospects that I mentioned, he’d be best-suited to make that deal.
Jaromir Jagr – RW – Dallas Stars
The 41-year-old from the Czech Republic has been remarkable in his first year with the Dallas Stars, racking up 14 goals and 11 assists for a total of 25 points in just 31 games played. However, with the Stars struggling this season and team captain Brenden Morrow already sent to Pittsburgh, dealing Jagr’s expiring contract would seem to be the right move to make for GM Joe Nieuwendyk. With No. 68 being at least four years older than both St. Louis and Iginla, he’ll likely be dealt for a far lesser package of prospects and draft picks.
Another thing to consider in a possible acquisition of the longtime Pittsburgh Penguin is his close relationship with fellow countryman David Krejci. Both Jagr and Krejci were phenomenal skating on a line together at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and a potential reunion in Boston could provide a much-needed boost of offense for the Bruins. In my opinion, Jagr could be the best option for the Bruins at this year’s trading deadline, as he will improve the team in multiple facets of the game without mortgaging the future by surrendering a high-level prospect.
Keep in mind that outside of the infamous Tomas Kaberle saga that came to fruition in 2011, the Bruins haven’t actually acquired many of the players they’ve been reportedly interested in, leaving a pretty solid possibility that Chiarelli doesn’t bring any of these three players to Boston. It’s also worth noting that the team’s biggest need right now is another top-four defenseman. When Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg are paired together in the postseason, the B’s will need a reliable stay-at-home defenseman to skate alongside offensive-minded rookie Dougie Hamilton. At this point, neither Andrew Ference nor Johnny Boychuk has done enough to warrant that position this season. Ideally, the best move for the Bruins would be a package deal to fill both the team’s biggest needs; a top-six/nine forward and a top-four defenseman. Potential blueline fits that could be built-in to a deal for one of the players mentioned above include Anton Babchuk (currently recovering from injury) from Calgary and Stephane Robidas of the Dallas Stars.
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About the Author: Boston Bruins writer for Hockey Independent. Contributor to the New England Hockey Journal. Have written for The Hockey Guys and SB Nation Boston. Follow me on Twitter @_BWoodward or shoot me an email at BWoodward.HI@gmail.com.