Of Corey Perry, Jarome Iginla, Derek Roy and the possibility that the 2013 NHL trading deadline could end up as much ado about nothing...
For reasons that are sometimes difficult to explain, there are dozens of possible unrestricted free agents whose names never seem to surface in trade rumours, but Iginla’s is not one of them. The long-time face of the Calgary Flames turns 36 this summer and before he stopped talking about his future (or his contract talks), he made it clear that winning was a priority for him and winning in Calgary would be the best case scenario, for professional and for personal reasons.
Sadly, winning in Calgary doesn’t seem likely to happen any time soon, even after Wednesday night’s easy victory over the Detroit Red Wings, when goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff played well (finally) and the Monster, Jonas Gustavsson, was something less than extraordinary in the other net.
Years ago, when Terry Murray was still coaching the Kings and long before Jeff Carter and Mike Richards ever landed with the NHL team, Iginla might have been the perfect fit in L.A., a team that seemingly needed a boost of veteran leadership to get over the hump. The wrinkle now is that the Kings did get over the hump last June, winning the first Stanley Cup in franchise history; and they did it without Iginla.
So why would he suddenly be a fit in L.A. now? It doesn’t really add up, especially not if the cost is young goaltender Jonathan Bernier, who is finally getting some playing time because starter Jonathan Quick is having an erratic season, a development most likely attributable to his off-season back surgery, though you never get much of an explanation out of Quick, ever for anything.
But if Quick continues to struggle – he got pulled by coach Darryl Sutter after allowing three goals during Thursday night’s 4-3 loss to the San Jose Sharks – then it makes more sense for the Kings to hold onto Bernier as insurance, just in case things get worse, not better.
Bernier has been the subject of trade speculation for years, or ever since Quick emerged as the team’s starter, and one of the reasons nobody took a chance on him was because they didn’t know how good he might be.
So in the same way that it took Cory Schneider’s increased role with the Vancouver Canucks last season (33 appearances, 20-8-1 record, a 1.96 GAA) to convince teams around the league he was the real deal, Bernier’s stock has risen considerably this year, thanks to eight appearances, a 5-2-0 record and a 1.93 GAA). Bernier oddly took the loss against San Jose after the Kings rallied to make it close.
Accordingly, while Bernier’s value around the league is growing, his value to the Kings as a fallback position is even greater at the moment. In the same way that Vancouver isn’t moving a goaltender right now, it makes little sense for the Kings to venture down that risky path, especially since the biggest issue for the team, according to Sutter, is its overall commitment to team defence.
L.A. won the Cup last year, despite having the NHL’s 29th-rated offence, because it was so good in close, low-scoring games. For all the things Iginla can bring to a team’s mix, being hard on the back check is not one of them. If the Kings seek help anywhere, it would be to add some experience and beef on the blue line, in the continuing absence of the injured veterans Willie Mitchell and Matt Greene.
Iginla might have been the answer in L.A. a few years ago, or before Richards showed up; he seems less likely to be the right fit today.
THE COREY PERRY WATCH: The Anaheim Ducks are getting a brief glimpse at what life without Corey Perry may mean, with Perry serving a four-game suspension for his hit on the Minnesota Wild rookie forward Jason Zucker. The Ducks started off impressively, with a win over the Dallas Stars, a punctuation mark on a season in which everything is going right for coach Bruce Boudreau’s team. When Perry was slow off the mark offensively, the likes of Teemu Selanne, Saku Koivu and Andrew Cogliano were there to bail them out. Of late, Selanne’s offensive contributions have quietly fallen off a cliff, but Cogliano is up to 10 goals and Koivu keeps chipping in here and there. Mostly though, the Ducks surge in the past three weeks was keyed by the Big 3 – Perry, centre Ryan Getzlaf and winger Bobby Ryan. Anaheim is 20-3-3 after 26 games; it took the Ducks 52 games last year to win 20. Impressive.