Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Jarome Arthur-Leigh Adekunle Tig Junior Elvis Iginla

Jarome Iginla
King Jarome Arthur-Leigh Adekunle Tig Junior Elvis Iginla
Pierre LeBrun jumped on Hot Stove on HNIC and speculated that if the Calgary Flames were to move Jarome Iginla; the Kings would be a perfect fit.  He reiterated his point on HNIC Radio that he's got from sources that Iginla is atop the Kings 'wish-list' if he were to become available.
(Iginla) would go along with the character-type guys the Kings have added over the last two years, players like Ryan Smyth and Willie Mitchell.
I couldn't agree more.  The Kings failed to acquire Kovalchuk.  The cap space is still sitting there.  The team is still missing that top-line scoring winger.  Dean Lombardi has exhausted the point that he doesn't want to jeopardize the signings of Doughty, Johnson, and Simmonds.  I absolutely get that point but look at any of the teams that have won a Cup in the post-salary cap era and all of them went 'all-in' for a couple of seasons before losing some key contributors as part of the salary cap.  It's part of building a team now.  The Kings are one or two players short from being considered legit contenders and the time is now to pull the trigger on a deal.

The latest drama out cowboy town came last week when Coach Brent Sutter called out his team, especially it's top players.  Per CBC.
"The only way you can be a consistently good team is that it doesn't matter who you are, this is what you have to do; it doesn't matter what you've done here in the past, what you've done somewhere else in the past. This is our team and this is the way we have to play," Sutter said.
According to Hotstove panelist Eric Francis of Sun Media, the words were aimed straight at Iginla, despite attempts by Sutter and the coach himself to back-off the comments"It seems pretty obvious, everyone in the city is connecting the dots, it's all about Jarome Iginla," Francis said. "Iginla is not the power forward he used to be and that's what I think is driving Brent Sutter crazy."
Both Sutter and Iginla have denied any rift.  Reminds me of when Sutter called out Phaneuf's play, denied that he was on the trading block, and then dealt him within weeksCBC's Elliot Friedman weighs-in.
Two things about Jarome Iginla: First, there clearly are some high-ranking people in the Calgary organization who want him to go. Second, I was told in the summer that Iginla will not agree to a trade unless the Flames make it public that any move is the team's choice, not his. 
It's obviously too early in the season to speculate about a possible trade but if the Flames continue to play .500 hockey and are sitting outside of the playoff race in a month or two; the Kings would be foolish not to approach Calgary about acquiring Iginla.

Dion Phaneuf
Phaneuf Was A Franchise Cornerstone Too...
Some fans may think that the thought of even discussing Iginla leaving Calgary is ludicrous.  I was under the same impression until Calgary dealt 24-year old defenseman Dion Phaneuf last season to Toronto for a collection of second-and-third-line players (PS- I prefer Phaneuf to Bouwmeester anyday).  The Flames were a desperate bunch then and I'd argue an even more desperate squad now.  GM Darryl Sutter surprised alot of fans when he brought back veteran center Olli Jokinen in the hopes of getting Iginla going again but seemed to overlook the fact that the two had absolutely zero chemistry last season.

The Flames roster is dominated by overpaid second-and third-liners and eleven players with no-movement clauses (including Iginla).  Sutter has over $18-million committed to his top-four defenseman next season after re-signing Mark Giordano to a 5-year/$20.1 million deal.  With no real top talents at the AHL level or anywhere in the system; something has to happen in Calgary.

Yes.  He's 33 year old.  Yes.  His PPG average has dropped over the last five seasons: 1.34, 1.20, 1.09, 0.84 and so far this season - 0.64.  With that said, he's scored at least 30 goals in nine consecutive seasons and is only two years removed from a 50-goal campaign in 2007-08.  For all the veteran band-aid acquisitions that Dean Lombardi's made over his tenure as GM: Dan Cloutier, Alyn McCauley, Justin Williams, Ryan Smyth, and Jeff Halpern; Iginla is about as durable as it gets.  In the five seasons since the 2004-05 lockout, Iginla has played in all 82 games four times.  He's still annually among the league leaders in ice-time and led all forwards in even-strength ice-time last season.

There are some skeptics that believe Iginla is on the decline and has been for quite some time.  I'd agree to an extent.  You can read all about Iginla's offensive decline complete with Corsi numbers and trend models comparing Iginla's decline to Markus Naslund's here. Even more analysis here.
"However, the true extent of his degradation as an elite player is captured by the WOWY analysis: previously a driver of results, Iginla acted mostly as an anchor in 2009-10. Every single line mate saw their possession numbers go down while skating with the club’s most expensive player. The explanation does not lie in contextual factors like quality of opposition or difficulty of zone starts either: Jarome’s circumstances varied widely throughout the season, but the results were depressingly consistent."
I'd agree that Iginla isn't the dominant player he was earlier in the decade and can't carry a team's offensive load anymore.  With that said, Iginla's linemates have gone from good to average over recent seasons.  From Kristian Huselius, Alex Tanguay, and Michael Cammalleri to the likes of Jokinen, Matt Stajan, and and Tanguay again after stops in Montreal and Tampa.  I'd argue that Iginla has been asked to carry a line more last season than ever before because of the lack of talent surrounding him.  The game plan for any team going into Calgary: Stop Iginla and you stop the Flames.

I'd argue that Iginla is still one of the league's top power forwards and point to his tournament-leading five goals at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver playing alongside Sidney Crosby as proof.  Per Flames Nation.
"(Crosby) and Jarome, when paired, were deployed by Babcock in purely offensive surroundings (o-zone draws, power play time), while feeding guys like Bergeron and Toews the tougher assignments...That said, this may be why it makes sense for a club already possessing the likes of Crosby or Bergeron to acquire Iginla presently - they already boast the pieces to effectively shelter Jarome and therefore leverage his contract to something approaching full value."
L.A.'s checking line of Handzus-Ponikarovsky-Simmonds is regarded as one of the best in the NHL and Kopitar is among the top-10 centers in the NHL.  Iginla would seem like a perfect fit but I asked Kent at who provided the Corsi analysis on his thoughts:
I think Iginla could definitely work in LA alongside Kopitar. Not only because Kopitar would be the guy carrying the mail on that line (instead of Jarome, who can't really do it anymore) but because it looks like LA is splitting hard minutes duties between Kopitar and Handzus' line this year, meaning some easier assignments for Iginla. He's still a capable enough player in his own right, but he's not amongst the elite anymore.
Some would say that Brad Richards of Dallas is a better fit.  He's younger (30) and a UFA at the end of the season.  Richards is in the last year of a 5-year, $39-million contract.  He's one of the best two-way centerman in the league and the reason Tampa Bay defeated Calgary in the 2004 Stanley Cup Finals.  With that said, I think Iginla fits a more pressing need.  Richards is a playmaker who's never scored more than 26 goals in a season.  With the way the second-line of Smyth-Stoll-Williams are skating; the need for a second center to help support Kopitar doesn't seem as pressing as it did in September.  The Kings need an impact player on the wing.

Brayden Schenn
Schenn Would Grab Calgary's Attention
I thought up numerous proposals.  The one I keep coming back to is: Brayden Schenn, Colten Teubert/Thomas Hickey, and a 1st-round pick for Jarome Iginla.  I asked Kent's thoughts on the return.
The package you suggest would be a pretty good starting point. I would personally seriously consider it myself, although it wouldn't surprise me if the Flames would like someone at least partially established as an NHLer in the deal. That said, if the organization ever decides is time to start some sort of rebuilding process, that may not be an issue. If the team struggles to make the post-season again this year, that may happen sooner rather than later.
I also asked Pierre Lebrun during his weekly chat.
I would if I were you Darryl.  But not sure Dean would offer that much.
Iginla has two more years remaining at a cap hit of $7 million after this season.  That's alot of money.  Dean may certainly have to send another roster player to Calgary in return.  If the Kings were to acquire Iginla.  It would create a log-jam on the right wing with Iginla, Brown, Williams, and Simmonds.  A possible inclusion of Williams and say puck-moving defenseman Ian White may make sense for both sides.  Both players are UFA's at the end of the season.

But any package based around Wayne Simmonds or Jack Johnson seems a bit far-fetched.  Simmonds is a second-line player at best, Calgary already has nearly $20-million tied up in four d-men next season.  If Darryl Sutter is willing to make a deal with either of these players as centerpieces; it would seem like a no-brainer for Dean Lombardi.

Dean Lombardi has built the Kings the right way.  He's put the organization in a position to make a deal of this magnitude.  The days of dynasties in the NHL are done.  Most contending teams will have a small window to contend for a Cup; the Kings window is just now opening.  It's time for the Los Angeles Kings to breakthrough and and for Dean Lombardi to make a statement that they're serious about challenging for the Cup now.  Acquiring Jarome Iginla would be a good start.

1 comment:

  1. Very nice post, however I don't think after many years of building this team we should trade hickey, teuburt, schenn and a first rounder for a 33 year old guy in his decline. That would be too much for a person who has seen better days. Iginla is a great player no doubt about it, but we are in first place without him, and I would like to see schenn and teuburt in the kings organization for a longer time. I would rather want to see Parise in a Kings uniform before Iginla