The trade deadline is still months away, but Jarome Iginla has already been asked about potentially moving to a Stanley Cup contender at the deadline.
The best years of Jarome Iginla’s career are behind him. No one, not even Iginla himself, would deny that. Be that as it may, though, you might be hard-pressed to find a team that wouldn’t be interested in picking up the veteran winger come playoff time if it was feasible both in terms of assets and the salary cap.
Though he’s only managed two goals and four points in 19 games, though he’s steadily taking third-line minutes and averaging the lowest ice times of his career and though he’s 39 years old and on the 18th hole of his career — probably approaching the green, too — Iginla still possesses some of the characteristics that teams love to have come playoff time. That’s why, regardless of his totals, he could very well be up for grabs on deadline day.
Iginla no doubt understands why it’s a topic of conversation, but he said it’s not yet the right time to be having those discussions.
“I’d still like to win,” Iginla said, according to the Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson. “I won’t lose hope in that. Hopefully we can be in the playoffs but I understand how it works at the deadline if we’re not (going well). I’ll cross that bridge when it comes.”
While it may be a bit bizarre to be discussing deadline day pickups with more than three-quarters of the season remaining for the bulk of the league’s teams, it’s the inevitable discussion when it comes to someone such as Iginla. In fact, it’s likely because of exactly who Iginla is and what he’s accomplished — one of his generation’s most beloved players, a favorite of fans and players league-wide and a Hall of Fame-worthy career — that the conversations about where he might be able to land the elusive Stanley Cup are sparking a bit early. He hasn’t been back to the final since losing a heart-breaking seventh game to the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2004.
And despite Iginla’s hopes, it’s near undeniable that his shot almost certainly won’t be coming in Colorado. The Avalanche are currently mired in 12th place in the Western Conference and 27th in the entire league. The only team with a less futile offense this season is the Buffalo Sabres, who have scored only 38 goals to Colorado’s 42, and only 10 teams have allowed more goals than the 55 the Avalanche have surrendered.
It’s almost definitely a recipe for Iginla to become deadline day fodder, but the question then becomes what exactly it takes to pry Iginla away. Realistically, though, it shouldn’t be much, so long as it’s in the realm of a fair deal. It’s hard to imagine Avalanche GM Joe Sakic simply not taking the best offer available to his team in exchange for Iginla, regardless of what that offer is.
Few would cheer against Iginla and actively root for the veteran to fail in chase for a Stanley Cup. This could very well be his last chance, though, and unless the Avalanche catch fire, it’d be hard to fathom a scenario in which Iginla’s not suiting up for a Cup contender come the start of the post-season.
Iginla’s not the only successful player in the 35-plus club chasing their first Stanley Cup, though. Here are five others looking to win Cup No. 1 this season:
Shane Doan, Arizona Coyotes: Doan is the Coyotes franchise, and he’s been the face of the team almost since the moment they moved to the desert. He’s had his chances to move on in the past but has stayed true to Arizona. He won’t be winning a Cup with the Coyotes, so unless he has desire to move on, he could finish his career without hoisting the sport’s top prize.
Andrei Markov, Montreal Canadiens: For an entire generation of Habs fans, Markov is synonymous with the team’s blueline. His entire 949-game career has been played in Montreal, and he is a bonafide star on the backend. This is about as good a chance as he’s ever had, and a healthy Carey Price could be a playoff monster.
Mike Fisher, Nashville Predators: Fisher came close when the Senators made the Stanley Cup final in 2007, but they were run over by a powerful Ducks team. The Predators were a pre-season Western Conference favorite, and if they can get it going at the right time, Fisher wouldn’t need to be passed the Cup first as a show of respect for his 1,000-plus game career, the newly minted captain would get it straight from commissioner Gary Bettman.
Joe Thornton, San Jose Sharks: Like Iginla, Thornton has pieced together a career that has had all the makings of a Hall of Fame induction, but he’s still missing the Stanley Cup. The Sharks finally broke through in 2016 with their first Western Conference championship, but a repeat might be difficult. ‘Jumbo’ always comes to play in the playoffs, though.
Patrick Marleau, San Jose Sharks: Marleau is to the Sharks what Doan is to the Coyotes. Marleau made his debut with the team when the franchise was in just its seventh season. He, like Thornton, got his first look at the Stanley Cup final in 2016. The six-game defeat at the hands of the Penguins stung, but there’s a chance the Sharks could get back again this year.
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