163358327Update: Shortly after this report, the Calgary Flames stunned everyone by announcing that Jarome Iginla had been traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins, not the Boston Bruins. What an utterly crazy night.
On December 20, 1995, an 18-year-old Jarome Iginla was traded to the Calgary Flames, along with centre Corey Millen, for superstar forward Joe Nieuwendyk, and for the last 18 years, that's where he's been. In the nearly two decades Iginla has spent wearing the Flaming "C" -- and, for much of that time, another, smaller "C" -- he's established himself as simply the greatest player Calgary's ever had, setting franchise scoring records, and even leading the Flames to a Stanley Cup Final appearance in 2004.
But everything ends, and on March 27, 2013, 6308 days after he arrived, Iggy's incredible run as a member of the Calgary Flames came to a close.
Jarome Iginla has been traded to the Boston Bruins, according to TSN's Aaron Ward. It sounds like we don't get official confirmation from either club until the morning, but the deal appears to be done nonetheless.
In exchange, the Flames reportedly receive centre Alex Khokhlachev, defenceman Matt Bartkowski, a 1st round pick, which may be conditional, and a massive hole in their hearts where Iginla used to be.
For those wondering how Bruins' GM Peter Chiarelli would respond to Pittsburgh's acquisitions of Brenden Morrow and Douglas Murray, your answer is, "with gusto". The Eastern Conference is going to be a dogfight the rest of the way.
Here's your snap analysis on the trade: Jarome Iginla makes the Bruins better. He's very, very good, even as he begins to slow down.
And really, that slowdown may be exaggerated. It's possible that we see a refreshed Iginla, as he plays as part of a deep, contending team on which he doesn't have to do it all. Iginla doesn't have to drag this team to the Cup Final, nice as that would be. In a way, he just has to be 2011 Mark Recchi, and he's better than 2011 Mark Recchi, although the jury's out on his ability to assess injuries.
Moreover, Iginla may be energized when he discovers that Boston has something he's heard about only in myth: centres. Iginla has spent the majority of his career without a pivot commensurate to his abilities. Freed from the burden of doing it all on his own, and skating alongside David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron, or even Rich Peverley -- who's still better than the centres he leaves behind in Calgary -- we may see a much more potent player.
We should see a more potent Bruins attack. Iginla's arrival is a big boon to Claude Julien, who's been working with a forward corps that drops off considerably in skill after two lines. The addition of Iginla allows Julien to spread their skill out more evenly, perhaps by dropping Nathan Horton to line three and skating Iginla with Krejci and Milan Lucic. It really doesn't seem fair that the Bruins could deploy Jarome freaking Iginla on their second line, but there you go.
As for the Flames, the question here is whether or not Jay Feaster managed to get a decent return for Iginla, and I don't think he did. Nevermind that the 1st round pick is conditional on Iginla re-signing in Boston, according to Bob McKenzie, which is absolutely flipping absurd, borderline fireable, and pretty much supports everything I thought about Feaster not being the right guy to make this move -- the pieces aren't all that impressive either.
Feaster should have made this trade last year, when he was sure to get more, but even this year, I'm convinced he could have done better. Iginla's exit mirrors his arrival in Calgary, even down to the two-prospect package, but two decades later, he's outgoing superstar. He's the Joe Niuewendyk. But who's the incoming superstar, the Jarome Iginla? Neither Bartkowski nor Khokhlachev appears to be it.
It's still much too early to say exactly what these players will be, but while both project to be NHLers, neither project to be impact players. Khokhlachev could be a second-line center. Bartkowski might be able to crack a top-four. But both are complementary pieces at best. You'd think Calgary could have gotten at least one truly high-end prospect out of the deal.
Maybe they could have if they'd let these negotiations drag on a little closer to the deadline. Making the move now rather than forcing the competing GMs to sweat and potentially up their offer seems hasty.
But hey, maybe Jay Feaster's vision exceeds my own. After all, he now has a Bartkowski and a Jankowski in the system. Perhaps he knows something about Polish genes that we don't?
Either way, we'll have plenty of time to assess the trade from the Flames perspective as their pieces mature into NHL players (or don't). But the time to watch what Jarome Iginla can do as a Boston Bruin begins now. It's going to be weird.
All that said, I'll tell you what not to watch: trade deadline coverage. What in the world are they going to talk about now?