The Anaheim Ducks have shocked the NHL this season. Despite being picked by most to be outside the top-eight when the dust settles, the Ducks have shot off to their second-best start in franchise history and are looking like, dare I say it, legitimate Stanley Cup contenders. (Knocking on wood... knocking on wood...) [Ed. Note: He's new. He shall learn the ways of AC magumbo. - JN]
But if the Ducks want to make a deep run in the post season and potentially give the biggest of middle-fingers to the not-so-high-and-mighty defending champs up the freeway it's only fair to imagine they'll want to bolster their ranks bit before the season is out. Will they be a possible permanent addition? Or will they be a rental who we let walk away?
Over the next several weeks, I'll occasionally be taking a look at some of these potential late-season acquisition targets that could push Anaheim over the top and into true championship contention.
First up under the microscope is a big one: Jarome Iginla.
Just imagine this for a second: Jarome Iginla-Bobby Ryan-Teemu Selanne. Or maybe even Jarome Iginla-Ryan Getzlaf-Corey Perry. If either of those possibilities caused you to start salivating... don't call your doctor because that's normal.
There is no questioning the man they call Iggy's pedigree as a superstar. Now in his sixteenth NHL season, all with the Calgary Flames, the long-time captain has two Rocket Richard trophies (NHL's leading goal scorer in the regular season), one Art Ross trophy (NHL's leading point scorer in the regular season), a Mark Messier Leadership Award, two ESPY's for best NHL player (which coming from ESPN in my mind makes them mean virtually nothing), two Olympic gold medals, and many other awards.
His career totals feature a staggering 517 goals and 1,083 points.
Yet despite the Calgary Flames struggling horribly for the past three seasons, their ownership group has tried to delay an inevitable full rebuild for as long as possible. That rope may have finally run out as Iginla is in the final year of his monster contract and will be an unrestricted free agent on July 1st.
In all reality he's worth every penny of the $7 million cap hit he's hogging up; a talented leader of his ilk is once in a generation. But that being said $7 million is a rather large number for any team to take on, even though they wouldn't be taking on all of it with this partial season.
So what would it take to get Jarome Iginla to Anaheim?
GM Bob Murray actually has put the Ducks in a prime position to make some deadline movement to bolster this team with a bombshell deal like this. The Ducks boast a whopping $12.03 million in free cap space to work with right now; they could handle him for the short term in what's become known as a "rental" deal.
The downside to think about is what would a rebuilding Flames franchise ask for in return for their beloved cornerstone and captain? The answer is a lot.
Without question the Ducks would be surrendering their first-round pick in what's already being hailed as a very deep draft class packed with potential. Even if Iggy pushes us all the way to the top and we're stuck with the 30th pick, that's still a tough pill to swallow.
It's not inconceivable though.
With youth like Rickard Rakell already getting a long look at the NHL, and hotshots like Emerson Etem and Peter Holland all poised to make the jump up next season, a year without a first round pick isn't necessarily bad. Particularly if we can make some moves and maybe pick up an additional second rounder.
But it would probably cost more than just that first round pick. We would also likely have to give up one of these young prospects, and that's where it hurts. The aforementioned Rakell and Etem are promising. Holland is NHL ready, as is Patrick Maroon. Hampus Lindholm would likely have gotten a shot had bad luck not given him a concussion, and will likely be ready soon.
These are the assets any NHL team needs to succeed in the future and the Ducks have done brilliantly to acquire them. The Flames are now dire need of some of these and will likely demand some for Iginla.
That makes the question is this: win now or be good in the future?
Here's my opinion.
Because of his insanely high price tag, the Ducks could consider other less expensive options first before looking at Iginla, but they should by no means rule him out.
The Ducks most likely aren't going to want to surrender a package that could include first and second round picks as well as a prospect or possibly even two for what's inevitably going to be a rental player. That kind of asking price is painful when you consider how much work Murray has done to put this franchise in such a good place for the future.
But nonetheless the idea of bringing in a seasoned veteran superstar who wants nothing more than another shot at playoff hockey would in no way hurt the Ducks. Plus the idea of seeing Iggy in black and orange is tantalizing, even for just a few short months.