Jarome Iginla Is Now A Pittsburgh Penguin

When I went to bed earlier this morning at around 2 AM Atlantic (an hour ahead of Eastern), it seemed all but a done deal that Calgary RW Jarome Iginla was on his way to the Boston Bruins. A free-agent at the end of the season and Calgary in rebuild mode meant that Iginla was likely on the move before the trade deadline and this team made a lot of sense.

Fast-forward about six hours and what do I wake up to? The rich got even richer. This past week, the Pittsburgh Penguins added D Douglas Murray and LW Brenden Morrow and somehow snuck in Jarome Iginla from right under Boston’s noses  late last night/early this morning.

 

As that tweet from Darren Dreger shows, it seemed like Iginla to Boston was a done deal. However, whenever a player has a no-movement clause and is a legend in the town like Iginla is, he pretty much gets to choose where he wants to go. It appears as though he really wanted to go to Pittsburgh. What I went to bed to and what I woke up to were two completely different things. It was quite a bizarre situation as TSN and even NHL.com had confirmed Iginla was headed to Boston.

Calgary Flames right wing Jarome Iginla
Former Calgary Flames right wing Jarome Iginla waits for the face off during the third period against the Dallas Stars at the American Airlines Center Jerome Miron USA TODAY Sports

However, Jarome Iginla is now with the Pittsburgh Penguins. He was traded for college players Kenneth Agostino, Ben Hanowski and a first round pick in this year’s draft. Agostino, a former fifth round pick in 2010, and Hanowski, a former 3rd round pick in 2009, are apparently the first pieces of the officially unofficial rebuild of the Calgary Flames. I say apparently for this reason: Being former draft picks who chose the college route, they are in the same boat that Justin Schultz was in last year. The Flames still have to sign these guys or they become free agents. It’s quite possible that the only thing Calgary ends up with out of this trade at the end of the day, is a first round pick that will probably be one of the last three picks of the first round this year. Yikes.

Not to take anything away from Agostino and Hanowski, I’m sure they are fine people and could be regular NHL players some day. But the Pittsburgh Penguins just acquired a 500-goal scorer for a first, third and fifth round pick spread over five years. If that’s not a robbery, I don’t know what is.

But the trade is done and Iginla is now a Penguin. It seems to me he’s teamed up with Sidney Crosby before to do something important.

This raises the question of where Iginla will play in Pittsburgh’s lineup.

To be sure, Iginla is no Brenden Morrow, who I wrote about earlier this week after his trade to Pittsburgh. There is no debate as to whether Iginla will land on the top two lines. I don’t think the Penguins brought in a 500-goal scorer to go play third line checking minutes with Brandon Sutter.

This is where things get a little interesting. Does Iginla take Pascal Dupuis‘ spot on the first line with Crosby and Chris Kunitz? Does this then free up Morrow to land on the second line in Steeltown? Here’s the thing for me. If Iginla lands on the first line with Crosby, there’s still a chance that Morrow could land on the second line with Malkin and Neal. However, if Iginla lands on the second line with Malkin and Neal, I don’t see that first line getting broken up and Morrow goes to the third line.

Tale Of The Tape

As I noted before, Iginla belongs to the 500-goal club. posting 525 so far in his 16-year career. Not only does he score, he’s durable. Iggy has played in all 82 games in five straight seasons leading into this one.

I noted in my draft guide before the season started that Iginla was starting seasons at a slower and slower rate. In 2010-2011, Iginla managed just two goals in his first 11 games before exploding for 41 in his next 71 games. Last year, he scored just seven goals in his first 26 games but followed it up with 25 in his next 56 games. This season, Iginla has just nine goals in his first 30 games, or a goal/game pace of 0.3. That would be his lowest mark since 1997-1998.

Iginla is a career 13.2% shooter and is sitting at just 9.2% for this season. Since that 97-98 season, Iginla has never shot under 11% in any year. I will give him a break thought, as playing for Calgary doesn’t seem to be conducive to point production. With 25 points, Alex Tanguay leads the Flames in points, which is T-50th in the NHL. The team has a (-19) goal differential for the year, third-worst behind Florida (-39) and Colorado (-22).

Iginla’s PDO is 966 and his On-Ice Corsi is -2.77. Considering who he played for, that’s not even that bad. If you want to know how messed up the Calgary coaching staff is, Iginla (47.4%) trails Blake Comeau (48.9%), who has 65 career goals in 348 games, in offensive zone starts. Iginla was getting used in Calgary and I could not be happier to see him leave and actually have a legitimate shot at a Stanley Cup.

Fantasy Impact

There’s no way this doesn’t significantly help Iginla’s goal and point totals. I noted in that Morrow article how even when Bill Guerin was in the twilight of his career, playing with Crosby greatly improved (at least temporarily) his point production. To be sure, he’s going to land on one of the top two lines and this has significant impacts on other players.

If he lands with Crosby then we could see either Pascal Dupuis or Morrow on the second line. There is going to be an odd-man out scenario between Dupuis and Morrow. Whoever out of the two stays in the top six wins the sweepstakes and has significant fantasy value. Whoever ends up on the third line gets relegated to waiver wire status (once everyone is healthy).

Not only that but the power-play should be significantly affected as well. Coach Dan Bylsma isn’t shy of putting all his eggs in one power-play unit basket. This means that once everyone is healthy, you will see Sidney Crosby, James Neal, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and Jarome Iginla on that top unit (in all likelihood). This is bad news for Chris Kunitz owners. His 12 power-play points up until now are a fantastic mark but may not get much higher for the rest of the season.

Keep in mind, all of this is my personal speculation. But we know how Pittsburgh operates and I see Kunitz as the odd-man out on the power-play.

With most trade deadlines in fantasy hockey leagues already passed, you probably won’t be able to trade for Iginla (and you wouldn’t like the price even if you did). But this is going to do nothing but jack up his fantasy value. Iginla’s On-Ice Corsi of (-2.77) is going to jump up significantly when joining either of the top lines in Pittsburgh as Malkin, Crosby, Kunitz, Dupuis and Neal all have a On-Ice Corsi of (+9.8) or better. I expect a huge increase in his goal and point production as well as his plus/minus.

Anyone that took the risk on Iginla earlier in the season, either by trade or the draft, are about to be handsomely rewarded.

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