The NHL trade deadline always separates hockey fans into two broad categories. There are the hard-core types, interested in the grainy minutiae, who will endlessly debate the ins and outs of Curtis Lazar to the Calgary Flames for a second-round draft choice. Then there are those with more of a passing interest, and to them, the only player of genuine consequence to change teams Wednesday was the future Hall of Famer Jarome Iginla.
On a quiet day on the NHL trade front, Iginla was granted his wish – to go to a team with a chance to compete for a Stanley Cup – by Colorado Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic, a long-time friend.
Sakic essentially gave Iginla away to the Los Angeles Kings – for a conditional fourth-round pick in 2018 – and even retained half his $5.3-million contract to make the final part of deal happen.
In Los Angeles, Iginla will get a chance to play for Darryl Sutter, his former coach in Calgary, with whom he made the only deep playoff run of his career – to the 2004 Stanley Cup final, where the Flames lost in seven games to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Iginla will join a Kings’ team currently one point behind the St. Louis Blues in the chase for the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference.
The Kings won the 2012 Stanley Cup as an eighth seed, so they believe anything is possible, as does Iginla.
L.A. was Iginla’s preferred destination and it was largely because he sees the Kings as a bona-fide Stanley Cup contender.
“I really do, I really believe that,” Iginla said on a conference call.
“It’s not just the goalies [Jon Quick and Ben Bishop]. It’s the chemistry they have as a group and the world-class players they have on the team. I remember [Drew] Doughty saying after the last one, how hungry he was to win another one.
“With their battle and compete level, the playoffs suit them well. So yes, absolutely, I think they have a shot to win it.”
The most active Canadian team was Montreal, which made a series of minor tweaks to its roster, adding Dwight King (from Los Angeles), Andreas Martinsen (from Colorado) and the night before, Steve Ott (from Detroit).
All three add grit to a team, but none solve its most pressing issue – for scoring.
Lazar, traded to Calgary by the Ottawa Senators, was an interesting move. Lazar just turned 22 last month, is a former first-round pick and has had a difficult time finding a place in the Senators’ lineup, after contracting mononucleosis last fall, which put him behind from the start.
But Lazar was a junior star with the Edmonton Oil Kings and could be a player who benefits from a second chance at so early a stage in his career.
After moving forward Jannik Hansen to San Jose on Tuesday night, Vancouver claimed Joseph Cramarossa off waivers from Anaheim, but held onto goaltender Ryan Miller.
Edmonton’s search for a backup goaltender came up short, in part because one of the players the Oilers had targeted, Michal Neuvirth, ended up signing a contract extension with the Philadelphia Flyers.
The Winnipeg Jets traded Drew Stafford to Boston for a conditional sixth-round pick, mostly just to clear him off the roster.
Every year, there is generally one minor deal that makes an impact months down the road and this year, it might involve defenceman Mark Streit. He started the day in Philadelphia, was traded to Tampa for Val Filppula and then immediately flipped by the Lightning to the Pittsburgh Penguins for a fourth-round pick.
Pittsburgh also took on Frank Corrado from Toronto (in the Eric Fehr deal) and had previously acquired Ron Hainsey from Carolina last week, adding depth to a defence that had been decimated by injuries.
Once again, the Penguins will need to get past the league-leading Washington Capitals if they want to defend the Stanley Cup they won last spring.
It was an arms race in the ultra-tough Metropolitan Division, where the Capitals grabbed the best available defenceman days earlier, landing Kevin Shattenkirk to run its potent power play.
Sakic, who played on a line with Iginla on the 2002 Canadian gold-medal-winning men’s Olympic hockey team, said he made the trade with the Kings “out of respect for Jarome Iginla, as a person and as a hockey player. He’s a Hall Of Fame player. It was a place where he wanted to go – and I wanted to afford him that opportunity.”
Iginla entered the season second all-time among active players in goal-scoring, but it has been a down year offensively for him, with just eight goals and 18 points.
“It’s been a hard year, production-wise, but I believe it can better,” Iginla said.
“My energy doesn’t feel like it’s the issue. I’ve had a couple of real cold stretches, so I was battling the puck a little compared to when you’re feeling in the groove.
“But I think those are things that can change. I still look forward to competing and battling in the corners. I think I can still be effective and produce more than I have.”Report Typo/Error