Its less than a month into the NHL season, but theres already been an inordinate amount of trade speculation surrounding the Boston Bruins.
For a team thats lost only twice in regulation in their first 12 games and has very few weak spots on their roster, its perhaps advanced a bit by the shortened 48-game schedule. One household NHL name has been associated with the Black and Gold more than any other since Peter Chiarelli cleared the 5 million Tim Thomas cap hit away from the books: Jarome Iginla.
Its with good reason that Iginla is mentioned.
If and when the Calgary Flames do decide to move the All-Star forward in the last year of a deal paying him 7 million a season, Iginla would be the exact kind of rugged, hard-nosed winger with size, strength and offensive ability that Bruins management normally covets. Sure Iginla is getting a little long in the tooth at 35 years old, and hes got only one goal in his first 12 games for the Flames this season.
There have been whispers that the competitive fire has gone out for Iginla in Calgary after too many years in mediocrity. That may even be true as hes slowing down with age, but a return to a Stanley Cup-worthy team like the Bruins would be exactly what the doctor ordered.
It revived Mark Recchi at the end of his Hall of Fame career, and there was a noticeable difference between Brian Rolston toiling with the Islanders and then catching fire with the Bruins are arriving in Boston. The Bruins Cup-winning nucleus and proven championship management teamcoaching staff is exactly what any NHL veteran would be seeking while hunting for a sniff of the Cup.
The Bruins certainly have the cap space with upwards of 10 million in flexibility once they placed Marc Savard on Long Term Injured Reserve, and they have the draft picks and prospects to pull the trigger on a deal for an Iginla-type player. But Chiarelli is keeping his cards close to the vest as the Bruins keep on the lookout for scoring wingers and defensemen depth.
When we did the Thomas deal it was about at least being in the game if a big name becomes available that requires a lot of cap space, said Chiarelli. Im not really looking for anything right now and its still pretty early. But I think this season that switch is going to be flipped pretty quickly.
Usually its a gradual build-up, but I think its going to come quickly. We could add close to 13 million in salary if we wait until the deadline, but its dangerous to just wait until the deadline. You may lose a player you were coveting. I want to be in a position to do a trade earlier.
Iginla may or may not be the player that the Black and Gold are coveting when push comes to shove, or he may not be interested in coming all the way across the continent to Boston. There is one player to keep an eye on if Iginla in a Spoked B sweater isnt the slam dunk some people wish he would be.
How about a second go-round with former Bruins winger and Cup team member Michael Ryder?
The Dallas Stars are currently in the bottom rung of the Western Conference playoff teams and dont presently have any desire to sell of their assets. But like Iginla the Stars winger is in the last year of his contract, has a cap hit that the Bruins could easily absorb and has the added bonus of already having proven chemistry with the player on Bostons roster.
Twice last week during the press conference announcing the signing of Jay Pandolfo, Chiarelli stressed how vital chemistry is to our team, and thats not be understated for the Bruins.
Ryder has also shown an uncanny knack for raising his game during the playoffs (17 goals and 35 points in 51 playoff games for Boston over three years), and did so after sometimes underachieving during the regular season.
This much cant be argued: the Bruins never would have lifted the Stanley Cup over their heads two years ago without the streaky forward, and Bostons management puts a paramount value on new acquisitions blending in with the current mix of players.
He can also still play a little bit as evidenced by the 35 goals and 62 points the 32-year-old Ryder cranked in for Dallas last season. Ryder wouldnt be a drag on their team speed and he actually skated on the wing with Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley during Bostons playoff run the exact role he would probably fill once again if a deal back to Boston ever came to fruition.
Its understandable that Bruins fans around the city of Boston have Iginla fever as Calgary continues to drop in the Western Conference standings. Perhaps it will even be the perfect match that everybody hopes for placing a player with a team that would seem to have that exact need.
But nobody should be disappointed if its a potential perfect fit like Ryder or some other talented offensive winger that comes walking through that door prior to the April 4 NHL trade deadline.