The Oilers appear to be in position to make their first playoff appearance in 10 years, and that could make for a homecoming for Jarome Iginla. Meanwhile, the Canadiens will look to remain patient in the face of injuries down the middle.
The Colorado Avalanche's struggles are generating more speculation over management's possible moves this season. One of them could be veteran right wing Jarome Iginla. An unrestricted free agent in July, the 39-year-old acknowledged he could consider waiving his no-trade clause to join a playoff contender.
David Staples of the Edmonton Journal cites Oilers insider Bob Stauffer suggesting GM Peter Chiarelli should consider pursuing Iginla. He feels the Oilers' need for a shooter at right wing is more pressing than adding a defenseman with a right-handed shot.
Despite Iginla's declining skills, Stauffer feels it's a mistake to give up on him. He believes the aging right wing remains competitive and can still one-time the puck. Given Iginla's $5.33-million cap hit and the Oilers' limited cap space, Stauffer thinks the Avs must pick up part of it. Given Iginla's UFA this coming summer, it would only be a short-term issue.
If the Oilers are playoff contenders near the March 1 trade deadline, adding a rental player or two could be a good idea. Iginla returning to Alberta and the city where he was born and raised would make a great story. Landing him might cost only a draft pick.
Whether Iginla will make a difference at this stage of his career, however, is another story. While he did tally over 20 goals and 40 points in each of the last two seasons in Colorado, he's only managed seven points in 27 games this season. That puts the future Hall of Famer on pace for a career-worst nine goals and 21 points in 82 games.
Granted, Iginla has considerable leadership and experience. Perhaps on a deeper club, he might regain his scoring touch. But it's apparent that age and two decades of NHL action have caught up with him. Though Iginla remains popular and well respected, the days where he could be a worthwhile playoff rental player are long gone.
HABS PATIENT DESPITE INJURIES DOWN THE MIDDLE
Losing centers Alex Galchenyuk and David Desharnais to knee injuries leaves the Montreal Canadiens thin at center for the next several weeks. The Habs have managed well so far, going 2-0-1 in their last three games.
However, the absence of Galchenyuk and Desharnais could eventually take its toll. Montreal fans recall how injuries to several key players, including goaltender Carey Price, doomed the club's playoff hopes last season. Should the Habs struggle in the coming weeks, GM Marc Bergevin could come under pressure to find suitable short-term replacements.
The Montreal Gazette's Pat Hickey, however, believes Bergevin could stand pat and try to weather the storm until Galchenyuk and Desharnais return. He points out Price is healthy and the club is doing well for the most part at both ends of the rink.
Hickey notes Edmonton Oilers center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins keeps popping up in trade speculation. However, he points out the 23-year-old will be expensive in salary ($6-million annually) and return. Put simply, the Canadiens can't afford him.
Some pundits are suggesting Arizona Coyotes center Martin Hanzal could be a good fit in Montreal. Hickey observes he hasn't scored more than 16 goals in a season and only tallied 40 points twice.
Despite Hanzal's 6-foot-6, 226-pound frame, he's also frequently sidelined by injury. The Coyotes could seek a promising young center or defenseman in return, but the Habs don't have a lot of depth to spare in either department.
Rumor Roundup appears regularly 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.). For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.