NHL NEWS: Calgary Flames trade Jarome Iginla to Pittsburgh Penguins
Massive news yesterday, as the Calgary Flames announced the trade of perennial All-Star, team captain and beloved member of the Calgary community Jarome Iginla to the Pittsburgh Penguins. A trade had been suspected for the last couple of weeks, and indeed the last couple of years as Iginla has gotten older and the Flames have been less competitive.
Iginla has been a superstar in the league for at least the last 12 years, but was a quality young player from the moment he stepped into the league in 1996. Originally drafted by the Dallas Stars but never playing a game for them as he was traded to Calgary in exchange for Calgary favourite Joe Nieuwendyk, the trade worked out well for both teams, as the Stars got their veteran scorer who helped lead them to the Cup in 1999, and the Flames got a young power forward who would become the face of the franchise for over a decade and a half. Iginla would go on to score 525 goals and 1095 points in 1219 games for the Flames, win 2 Rocket Richard Trophies (most goals), one Art Ross Trophy (most points), one Lester Pearson Award (players’ player of the year), one King Clancy Memorial Trophy (leadership and humanitarian contributions), one Mark Messier Leadership Award (leadership recognition). He also made the NHL All-Rookie Team, the 1st All-Star Team 3 times and the 2nd All-Star Team once, and played in 6 All-Star Games.
That’s a quality player, and a great captain. This will be a huge loss for the team and the community, but the Calgary Flames are a team who for the last few seasons have been trying to stop the inevitable – that is, that they need to ship out their aging veteran players and rebuild, with a more long-term goal than simply trying to scrape into the playoffs. Trading Iginla signals the start of a rebuild process; whether it will be a long protracted one like Edmonton, or an attempted quick turn-around like Philadelphia in 2007, it remains to be seen. It is in their best interests though, no matter how much losing someone of Iginla’s calibre hurts.
In exchange for Iginla, the Flames received two prospects and a 1st Round Draft Pick from the Penguins. This is an interesting trade return. Kenneth Agostino is a 21 year old forward, originally drafted in the 5th round of the 2010 draft. He plays for Yale in the NCAA, and led his team in scoring with 37 points in 33 games. Pretty good stats, though nothing overwhelming for a guy in his third NCAA season and being traded for a superstar. He’s reportedly about 6’1″ and 200lbs, and according to Hockey’s Future is relatively physical, a strong competitor and is a good skater with good hockey instincts. Sounds like a pretty decent pick-up, though as with all prospects the adjustment to the professional game will be the big tell.
Ben Hanowski is a right winger for the St Cloud State Huskies (yup, I hadn’t heard of them either) of the NCAA. He captained the team this year and finished with 16 goals and 29 points in 34 games, and was originally drafted in the 3rd Round of the 2009 Draft. At 23, he’s an older prospect and has just finished his senior year so will be looking to turn professional. He has good size at 6’2″ and 210lbs, but those scoring stats don’t scream to me “future NHL forward”. Not bad stats, but nothing special either. Hockey’s Future describes him as a character guy, skilled, and possessing “uncanny vision” but needing to gain more explosiveness in his first step.
Corey Pronman, the prospect expert at Hockey Prospectus, describes both as above average prospects, but I have a hard time believing Calgary couldn’t get something better than those guys for Jarome-freakin’-Iginla.
The 1st Round Draft Pick could be very useful, perhaps the best part of the deal for the Flames, but given the Penguins are clearly loading up for a Cup-run (having already dealt for Brendan Morrow and Doug Murray), that pick could in all seriousness be as low as 30th Overall. Quality players are obviously still available at that point in the draft, hell that’s why there’s 7 rounds of the damn thing, but to be honest picking anywhere below 10th overall is something of a crap-shoot. It might be more useful as a trading chip for acquiring more bona-fide prospects or players.
On the bright side: Sidney Crosby gets to play with Jarome Iginla again!