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The Flame game

Lyle Richardson
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Jarome Iginla had 32 goals and 69 points in 82 games this season. (Getty Images) Author: The Hockey News

News

The Flame game

Lyle Richardson
By:

Those Jarome Iginla trade rumors that sprang up following the Calgary Flames’ disappointing end to the season can be put to rest, as team president Ken King said Iginla and GM Darryl Sutter will return next season.

It was suggested at season’s end Iginla might be asked to waive his no-movement clause if Sutter was replaced, something teammate Craig Conroy found silly, believing Iginla will retire as a Flame.

Iginla also has three years remaining on his current contract at $7 million per season.

According to Conroy, the genesis of those trade rumors were hypothetical questions asked of Iginla at season’s end. Reporters wondered if he’d waive his clause to facilitate a trade should management approach him about it.

Having never been asked those questions before, Iginla answered as best he could, suggesting he’d consider it if the deal made sense.

Realistically, though, there are only two ways Iginla is traded by the Flames: If he requests it, or if in the final season of his contract management decides it’s time to rebuild and shops him at the trade deadline. Even then there’s no guarantee they’d get good value in return.

Conroy may be right when he says Iginla will be a Flame for life.

• The Toronto Maple Leafs currently lack first and second round picks in this year’s entry draft, but reports out of Toronto late last week suggested GM Brian Burke will try to move up in the draft order.

Defenseman Tomas Kaberle, who has one year remaining on his current contract and whose no-trade clause isn’t in effect from June 1 to August 1, has been suggested as potential trade bait to land a first round pick.

Sun Media’s Steve Simmons suggested Kaberle might be pitched to the Columbus Blue Jackets in hopes of landing a high pick.

The Blue Jackets are believed to be seeking a top-two defenseman, but they won’t waste a first round pick on Kaberle unless they know they can get him re-signed to an extension.

Contract talks between the Leafs and restricted free agent winger Nikolai Kulemin, meanwhile, have come to a standstill, but Burke expects they’ll “grind on” during the coming weeks.

Kulemin, who turns 24 in July, made $1.5 million last season and is reportedly seeking more than $3 million per annum on his new deal, which isn’t likely to sit well with Burke given Kulemin averaged 15 goals and 33 points his first two seasons in Toronto.

It’s rumored the Russian winger could bolt to the Kontinental League this summer, but in interviews this season he stated his intent to stay in the NHL.

• It’s possible we’ve seen the last of Rob Blake as an NHL player.

The San Jose Mercury News reported last week a source said Blake, 40, was leaning toward retirement, but is holding off making an official announcement.

Sharks GM Doug Wilson hasn’t given Blake a deadline for a decision, but it’s expected he’ll probably want one prior to July 1 and the start of the unrestricted free agent market.

Blake averaged more than 23 minutes per game for the Sharks during this year’s post-season, but his skills are in decline. Having had a full career – which included winning the Norris Trophy as the league’s top defenseman and a Stanley Cup with Colorado – he’s got nothing left to prove.

• Commissioner Gary Bettman’s claim last week next season’s salary cap could increase by $2 million – which would push it to nearly $58.8 million – comes as good news for the Chicago Blackhawks and Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Chicago Daily Herald noted that bump could mean the difference for the cap-strapped Blackhawks in re-signing an RFA like Andrew Ladd, while the Penguins could find that extra space worthwhile in re-signing a UFA like Sergei Gonchar or Matt Cooke.

However, that bump doesn’t detract from the Blackhawks’ need to free up considerable cap space via trade/demotion/buyout, nor does it make it possible for the Penguins to retain all their key free agents. Still, at this point, every little bit helps.

Rumor Roundup appears Mondays and Thursdays only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Foxsports.com and Eishockey Magazine.

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The Flame game