BOSTON -- In one of the most stunning developments in recent NHL trade deadline history, the Calgary Flames pulled a late-night surprise by announcing a deal that will send Jarome Iginla to the Pittsburgh Penguins for two NCAA players along with a first-round pick.
Every report on Wednesday had linked the Boston Bruins to Iginla, and many in Boston were readying for a Thursday press conference welcoming the 35-year-old future Hall of Famer to the B’s organization. TSN analyst and former Boston Bruins defenseman Aaron Ward reported that Iginla deal to Boston was done in the wee hours of Thursday morning following Boston’s 6-5 shootout loss to the Montreal Canadiens at TD Garden.
The Bruins were reportedly giving up 19-year-old Russian prospect Alexander Khokhlachev, 24-year-old defenseman Matt Bartkowski and a first-round pick in exchange for Iginla in what would have been a great deal for Peter Chiarelli and Co. Instead, the Flames' legend -- who had said he would agree to be traded to Boston, Pittsburgh, Chicago or Los Angeles -- opted to go to the Penguins, with Calgary receiving prospects Kenneth Agostino, Ben Hanowski and a 2013 first-round pick.
So instead of the Bruins, the Penguins immediately get one of the NHL’s bone-fide superstars in a 6-foot-1, 207-pound power forward who'd scored 30 goals in 11 straight seasons heading into this year. And this comes days after they'd also traded for Dallas winger Brenden Morrow and physical San Jose defenseman Douglas Murray.
Iginla wasn’t off to the best start of his career with a Calgary team that’s been stuck in neutral for most of the season, and has 9 goals and 22 points in 31 games this season along with a minus-7 rating. But it’s expected that a trade to a Cup-caliber team in Pittsburgh will energize the winger and bring out the best he has to offer.
Iginla immediately gives the Pens even more goal-scoring finish both on the PP and in five-on-five play, and also gives them a leadership presence in the dressing room.
Prior to the announcement, the Bruins were looking forward to adding Iginla.
“He’s an accomplished player,” said Milan Lucic. “He’s been in the league a long time. He’s scored 500 goals and for me growing up in Vancouver I got to see him play a lot. He’s definitely one of my favorite players and one of my idols growing up watching him play. He’d be welcome here with open arms to this dressing room.”
Instead it appears Iginla maneuvered things to make sure he was shipped to Pittsburgh to play with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and the rest of the Pittsburgh machine.
Coach Claude Julien acknowledged the trade talks and said that some of his players were “a little jumpy” wondering if they were going to get dealt prior to Wednesday night’s game against Montreal. Expect Thursday – an off day where the Bruins won’t be practicing – to be all about Iginla’s decision to choose Pittsburgh over Boston after playing his entire bruising, brilliant 16-year career in the hard-nosed, gritty Bruins style.
But it looks like it was never meant to be, after one of the most bizarre trade announcements in NHL trade history.