Go to the Globe and Mail homepage

Jump to main navigationJump to main content

Detroit Red Wings goalie Jonas Gustavsson gets knocked into the boards by Calgary Flames' Jarome Iginla during first period NHL hockey action in Calgary, Alta., Wednesday, March 13, 2013. (Jeff McIntosh/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Detroit Red Wings goalie Jonas Gustavsson gets knocked into the boards by Calgary Flames' Jarome Iginla during first period NHL hockey action in Calgary, Alta., Wednesday, March 13, 2013. (Jeff McIntosh/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

NHL Notebook

Duhatschek: Jarome Iginla to the Kings? Not so fast Add to ...

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.

More Related to this Story

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.

All would be well in their world if it wasn’t for the lingering uncertainty over Perry’s status and their inability to ascertain what he really wants – to use his pending unrestricted free agent status to leverage a new contract with them, or to move closer to his London, Ont. home. Perry spent most of the lockout back in Canada, and there are two possible destinations there – Toronto and Detroit – that get him back into the same general geographic area.

The desire to go home ultimately determined Zach Parise and Ryan Suter’s final destinations during last year’s free agency period – Parise is from Minnesota and Suter’s wife hails from there – so the Ducks have to give that factor considerable weight in their long-range planning. The problem, of course, is they may not get a clear signal from Perry as to his intentions before the trade deadline. Last year, the Nashville Predators were certain that they’d get the right of first refusal from Suter’s camp, but ultimately didn’t get a chance to make a final bid. So what if that’s the dilemma facing Ducks’ general manager Bob Murray 24 hours before the deadline? It’s unlikely there would be enough time for Perry to sign a contract extension with a new team, so you’d have to think the return the Ducks get for Perry as a rental might not justify giving him up for the home stretch and the playoffs.

Logically, if it gets that far, you’d think the Ducks would just hold on to Perry, see if they can win the Stanley Cup in a year when everything’s falling into place for them, and then take their chances in July. It may well be if the Ducks win it all, that factors positively into Perry’s eventual decision.

Would Parise have stayed in New Jersey had the Devils celebrated with the Stanley Cup last year? Maybe. But for players at that level, where the money is going to be big no matter where they eventually land, the commitment to winning is usually an important consideration.

Even after Brian Burke’s departure as GM, the Leafs still would love to put Perry’s truculence and testosterone in the lineup. But you can’t rule out Detroit either, a team that bid for Suter last summer and came up short. The Red Wings have money to spend and Perry would give them the same qualities that Brendan Shanahan did for years – size, nastiness and scoring off the wing. Detroit needs an infusion of talent everywhere, but a natural goal scorer would really help. Their 1-2 punch at centre, Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, remain two of the elite players in the game, but Datsyuk has zero goals in his past 11 games, and Zetterberg one in the past 20. This past week, there was speculation that Datsyuk might return to Russia following the 2013-14 season when his contract expires. Datsyuk is 35, one year younger than Iginla, and also has a July birthday. By the summer of 2014, he will be 37 and if he wants to play a year or two in the Kontinental Hockey League at the end of his career, that might be the time to start.

THIS AND THAT: Even though it involved two separate transactions, the Dallas Stars essentially swapped out Mike Ribiero for Derek Roy last summer, shipping Ribiero to the Washington Capitals and then bringing Roy in from the Buffalo Sabres to essentially fill his role as the team’s No. 2 centre. Ribiero has 29 points in 26 games for the Capitals and is seven points ahead of Alex Ovechkin at the top of the team’s scoring race, while Roy has 15 points in 21 games for the Stars. Both are unrestricted free agents this coming summer and the speculation is that Dallas, a team burned by Brad Richards’s departure two years ago, will likely move Roy at the deadline if negotiations on a contract extension reach an impasse. The theory that Roy will land with the Vancouver Canucks as a rental makes a lot of sense, considering Vancouver’s needs for help down the middle, in Ryan Kesler’s absence …

Ovechkin reached the 700-point career milestone this week in 579 NHL games. Among active players, the only two to get there sooner were Selanne and Jaromir Jagr. Ovechkin started the season with 110 more NHL games played than Sidney Crosby and 70 more points (679 compared to 609). Even in the midst of an exceptional season (47 points in 28 games), in which he’s opened up an eight-point lead over teammate Chris Kunitz in the overall scoring race, Crosby would need 44 points in his final 20 games to get to 700 this year …

The news at the Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) is off the market shouldn’t affect the day-to-day operations of the defending champion Los Angeles Kings at all, even though the organization’s president, Tim Leiweke, is out. Just after the lockout ended, Leiweke handed out contract extensions to the three key people in the hockey operations department – coach Darryl Sutter, general manager Dean Lombardi and president of business operations Luc Robitaille …

With two top-six forwards, Kris Versteeg and Stephen Weiss, out for the season and the Columbus Blues Jackets on an unexpected hot streak (5-0-4 in their last nine), it looks as if the Florida Panthers are the new favourites for 30th overall in the NHL and the best odds to win the draft lottery. If that happens, do the Panthers opt for defenceman Seth Jones, or one of the two forwards, Jonathan Drouin and Nathan MacKinnon, who top the draft ratings? In 2009 and 2010, the Panthers used their No. 1 picks on defencemen, Dmitry Kulikov and Erik Gudbranson, so they have some defensive depth in the organization. It’ll be an interesting call, if it ever comes to that …

The San Jose Sharks are challenging the Nashville Predators’ lead as the lowest-scoring team in the league, producing on average just 2.16 goals-per-game through Thursday, but they hope a tactical change by coach Todd McLellan will improve their scoring balance (only five players in double digits, scoring-wise). McLellan moved the versatile (but thus-far injury prone) Brent Burns to forward for Tuesday night’s game against the St. Louis Blues and plans to stick with the experiment for a while. Burns played both forward and defence in the NHL, and can provide a physical forechecking presence, which has been lacking at times with the Sharks this season. Burns missed 10 games at the start of the year recovering from sports hernia surgery and then seven more waiting for a leg injury to heal, but scored his second of the season in the win over the Kings Thursday night, playing forward …

The Sharks had just one regulation loss at home through their first 13 games this year and one reason is their vastly improve penalty-killing year over year. They were No. 30 last year but are No 3 this year. Assistant coach Larry Robinson is getting much of the credit …

The irrepressible and always quotable Philadelphia goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov was lamenting how tired he was of losing, after a 5-2 defeat to New Jersey this past week, which kept the Flyers firmly outside the top eight in the Eastern Conference. Bryzgalov is a fascinating study. He is in the second year of a nine-year, $51-million contract which was supposed to cure, once and for all, the Flyers’ perennial goaltending woes. Bryzgalov has had moments of brilliance and other times, his confidence flags so badly, you wonder if he’ll ever stop the puck again. But with Sergei Bobrovsky, last year’s back-up, now helping the Columbus Blue Jackets get on the road to respectability, Bryzgalov has been coach Peter Laviolette’s only option for much of the year. Through Thursday, Bryzgalov led all NHL goaltenders in minutes played (1469:51 – Nashville’s Pekka Rinne was second), and his 12 wins were tied for third overall. However, his save percentage is just .896, a far cry from the .921 he posted in his final season in Phoenix, which is what earned him that contract in the first place. The Flyers could potentially give Bryzgalov a compliance buyout in the off-season, after burning off $16.5-million of what they owed him in the first two years, though it would be admitting an expensive mistake …

Scott Gomez, who received a compliance buyout from Montreal just after the lockout ended, started slowly for San Jose (two points in his first 14 games), but has been better of late (five points in his next six) …

Revisiting trades is always a useful exercise once the first blush has worn off because what looked like a horribly one-sided exchange a year ago – that swap of goaltender Jaroslav Halak from Montreal to St. Louis for forward Lars Eller and defenceman Ian Schultz – doesn’t look quite so bad now. Halak is right there with Bryzgalov in the save-percentage department (an ugly .881) and has been largely supplanted by rookie goalie Jake Allen (7-1, 2.33, .915 SP) for the moment anyway. Goaltending woes, along with injuries, have contributed to St. Louis’s recent slide. Eller, meanwhile, is scoring on a more consistent basis (15 points in 25 games), one of the reasons the Canadiens are the unexpected feel-good story of the first half in the Eastern Conference …

The best recent news from St. Louis was that the versatile Alex Steen was activated Thursday from injured reserve, though his two injured linemates (Andy McDonald and Vladimir Tarasenko) remain sidelined. Steen responded with a three-point game in his return to the line-up, Allen earning the shutout. Some of last year’s mojo seems to be returning to the Blues. Coach Ken Hitchcock is not afraid to use a youngster in goal. The one year in franchise history that Columbus made the playoffs, 2008-09, Hitchcock heavily rode a youngster who’d started the years in the minors in the same fashion. That was Steve Mason, who went 33-20-7, posted 10 shutouts and eventually won the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s rookie of the year. Mason has never been able to scale those heights ever since, but Hitchcock is canny enough to know how to deploy his goaltenders.

Single page

Follow on Twitter: @eduhatschek

 

In the know

Most popular video »

Highlights

More from The Globe and Mail

Most Popular Stories