The more the Calgary Flames struggle this season, the more uncertain the future is for long-time captain Jarome Iginla in the Stampede City.
As of March 12, the Flames were at the bottom of the Western Conference standings. Despite being only six points out of a playoff berth, there's a growing sense their post-season hopes are flickering out.
The Flames woes over the previous two seasons made Iginla a fixture in the trade rumor mill. He and GM Jay Feaster always dismissed the speculation by citing Iginla’s no-movement clause, the years remaining on his contract and his desire to help the club become a winner.
This summer, however, Iginla is slated to become an unrestricted free agent, which is stoking speculation he’ll finally accept a trade.
On Sunday, the Calgary Sun's Eric Francis reported that Iginla's agent said his client wasn't involved in contract negotiations with the Flames.
With the trade deadline only three weeks away, Francis believes Iginla has “little more than a week or two” to inform the Flames of his intentions. Otherwise, management’s only option would be to shop him.
Francis followed up on Monday by suggesting the Flames’ mounting losses will make it easier for Iginla to accept a trade to a Cup contender, such as Boston, Pittsburgh or Chicago.
Barring a stunning second-half comeback, the Flames will miss the playoffs for the fourth straight year. The 35-year-old Iginla doesn't have many seasons remaining in his NHL career, so he must know his best chance to win a Stanley Cup lies elsewhere.
As for Flames management, the upcoming trade deadline is their last opportunity to move Iginla while he still has enough value for a return that would jump-start their long-overdue rebuild.
An Iginla trade remains uncertain, but less so compared to recent years.
The Dallas Stars continue to jockey for a playoff berth in the tight Western Conference standings.
Though they’re last in the Pacific Division and 10th in the conference, the Stars enter Tuesday's game against the Nashville Predators only two points out of the eighth and final playoff spot.
Still, if the Stars fail to gain ground by the trade deadline, there's a growing sense GM Joe Nieuwendyk will ship out pending unrestricted free agents Jaromir Jagr, Derek Roy and Brenden Morrow.
Morrow has a no-trade clause in his contract and insists his focus is on helping the Stars win, but in an interview with Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News, Morrow acknowledged the possibility of a trade.
Heika believes Morrow, who has a great working relationship with Nieuwendyk, won't block a deal if the Stars want to trade him. The Boston Bruins could be interested.
The Stars are unlikely to re-sign Morrow, but it's a different story with Roy, whom they acquired last summer in a trade with the Buffalo Sabres.
Heika reports they'd like to re-sign Roy, who's made a strong return from off-season shoulder surgery, netting 15 points in 19 games.
Nieuwendyk would only acknowledge he'd held talks with the Roy camp, which could rule him out as a trade candidate.
As for Jagr, who leads the Stars in goals (10) and points (18), expect considerable interest from around the league if the 41-year-old is shopped on trade deadline day. Despite his age, he'd be an effective second-line rental player for playoff contenders seeking experienced scoring depth.
Rumor Roundup appears weekdays only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).