Jarome Iginla is playing his 16th season with the Flames - will it be his last? (Getty Images)
With just over a week remaining until the NHL's April 3 trade deadline, anticipation grows over where the Calgary Flames will trade captain Jarome Iginla.
CBC's Elliotte Friedman reported Saturday the Iginla camp and Flames management remain mum on the subject, but it's believed the process to trade him has begun. He claimed the rumored asking price was “good young players, prospects or first round picks”.
It was subsequently reported the Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, Los Angeles Kings and Pittsburgh Penguins were on Iginla's list of preferred trade destinations.
On Sunday, the Penguins acquired veteran left winger Brenden Morrow from the Dallas Stars, so they appear to be out of the “Iggy Sweepstakes.”
The Kings seem to have the inside track. Former Flames GM and coach Darryl Sutter is now the Kings bench boss, plus they have a promising goalie in Jonathan Bernier to offer up as part of the return. Given Jonathan Quick's erratic performance this season, however, the Kings could retain Bernier as insurance.
The Blackhawks have been the NHL's top team this season and adding Iginla would make them that much more dangerous. However, GM Stan Bowman isn't under pressure to make a big move and isn't keen to mess with his roster's winning chemistry.
Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli would like to bolster his club's offense, but a season-ending injury to Chris Kelly and poor play from Rich Peverley has hampered the checking lines. Chiarelli has also sought an experienced third line left winger for some time. With Morrow off the market, his focus could shift to San Jose's Ryane Clowe.
Retaining Iginla beyond this season could also be a stumbling block. He's slated for unrestricted free agency in July and CBC's Kevin Weekes and TSN's Darren Dreger claimed he doesn't want to be a rental player.
Considering the limited cap space of the Blackhawks ($59.1 million invested in 17 players), Kings (approximately $49.5 million in 13 players) and Bruins ($56.6 million in 16 players), the Flames would have to take back considerable salary.
HOW WILL COYOTES HANDLE YANDLE?
The Phoenix Coyotes' re-signing of Oliver Ekman-Larsson to a six-year, $33 million contract extension resurrected speculation over blueliner Keith Yandle's future with the team.
Yandle was linked last September with the Boston Bruins, but Coyotes GM Don Maloney insisted the 26-year-old blueliner remained a key part of his club's core.
Sportsnet's Mark Spector reported the Coyotes are believed to be at their league-imposed salary cap, but aren't being forced to shed salary. Including Ekman-Larsson's new contract and Yandle's $5.25 million salary, the Coyotes have more than $39.6 million invested in 12 players for 2013-14.
Spector suggests the Coyotes sputtering offense could force them to shop Yandle. They're currently 23rd in goals-per-game (2.48) and 24th in power play percentage (15%). Scoring leaders Mikkel Boedker and Shane Doan have 19 and 18 points respectively, followed by Ekman-Larsson (18) and Yandle (16).
Yandle lacks a no-trade clause, giving the Coyotes flexibility if they wish to move him. Given the decline in next season's salary cap to $64.3 million, however, the deal would have to be almost dollar-for-dollar.
Potential trade destinations include the Detroit Red Wings, St. Louis Blues and Philadelphia Flyers, who've sought skilled blueline depth all season. The Blues and Flyers have the depth in young, affordable scoring talent to offer up in return.
To date, there's been no comment from Coyotes management regarding Yandle's future. If they slide any further out of playoff contention this week, however, rumors will increase.
ALL OPTIONS ON THE TABLE FOR FLYERS
CSNPhilly.com's John Boyuk believes if the Flyers become sellers by the deadline, defenseman Andrej Meszaros would make a good trade candidate.
Boyuk acknowledged Meszaros' recent injury history (which has forced him to miss most of this season), but feels the 27-year-old's salary ($4 million per season), lack of a no-trade clause and playoff experience makes him a more reasonable option to clubs seeking blueline depth than Calgary's Jay Bouwmeester.
He suggested if GM Paul Holmgren started taking bids now for Meszaros, he might squeeze a first round pick or “possibly a bit more” out of an interested club.
One should never dismiss the potential for NHL GMs to overvalue talent around the trade deadline. Meszaros, when healthy, is an effective blueliner, and a playoff-bound club with additional first round picks might consider parting with one for him.
The Columbus Blue Jackets are currently the only team with extra picks in this year's first round, but they're not a contender, and new GM Jarmo Kekalainen may be reluctant to give up those picks.
Holmgren's been seeking blueline depth since last summer and trading away an experienced defenseman under contract for next season would be an odd move.
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.).