Looking back on Jarome Iginla’s career highlights, the latest on Nick Schmaltz and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: With Jarome Iginla officially announcing his retirement as a player later today in Calgary, several NHL.com beat writers and columnists reflected on his career highlights. Among them was Iginla’s “Gordie Howe hat trick” leading the Flames to victory in Game 3 of the 2004 Stanley Cup Final, his assist on Sidney Crosby’s overtime goal in the men’s hockey gold medal game of the 2010 Winter Olympics.
Chicago Blackhawks center Nick Schmaltz hopes to one day become a top-line player (Photo via NHL Images).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Got a favorite memory of Iginla? Post it below in the comments section.
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Following a solid sophomore campaign, Chicago Blackhawks center Nick Schmaltz hopes to one day become the club’s No. 1 center. Schmaltz is a lock for the second-line center role, though he must work on improving his faceoff skills.
SPORTSNET: Defenseman Quinn Hughes, the Vancouver Canucks’ first-round pick in the 2018 NHL Draft, has decided to return to the University of Michigan next fall. Hughes was selected seventh overall.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The article also points out Hughes’ decision wasn’t related to Trevor Linden stepping down as the Canucks president of hockey operations last week. Canucks general manager Jim Benning said it was a mutual agreement as they don’t want to rush the 5-foot-10, 170-pound blueliner into the lineup. Hughes is a skilled defenseman with plenty of potential but another year or two in the college ranks could go a long way toward preparing him for an NHL career.
NHL.COM: Brady Tkachuk, the 2018 first-round pick (fourth overall) of the Ottawa Senators, will announced on Aug. 12 if he intends to return to Boston University for another season. He’s the son of long-time NHL star Keith Tkachuk and the younger brother of Calgary Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk.
Jarome Iginla to announce retirement, Trevor Linden leaves Canucks, an update on Henrik Zetterberg, the latest notable contract signings and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
CALGARY SUN: Former Flames captain Jarome Iginla will return to the Saddledome on July 30 to officially announced his retirement as an NHL player after 20 years. Iginla, 41, was an unrestricted free agent last season but couldn’t find any takers among the 31 NHL teams.
Iginla totaled “625 goals and 675 assists in 1,554 regular-season outings between 1996-2017”, with 525 goals and 1,095 points coming with the Flames, making him the franchise leader in both categories. He’s a former two-time winner of the Richard Trophy as the league’s leading goalscorer. He also won the Art Ross Trophy as the top scorer and the Pearson Award (now the Ted Lindsay Award) as the MVP as voted by the players.
Jarome Iginla is returning to Calgary to officially announced his NHL retirement.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Iginla was the greatest player in Flames history, no small feat considering their ranks over the years included Lanny McDonald, Al MacInnis, Mikka Kiprusoff, Joe Nieuwendyk, Theo Fleury and Mike Vernon. It’s only fitting that he retires in Calgary where he had his greatest seasons.
The Flames also re-signed center Mark Jankowski to a two-year deal worth an annual average value of $1.675-million, while an arbiter awarded Flames defenseman Brett Kulak a one-year, one-way contract worth $900K.
CTV NEWS: The Vancouver Canucks last night announced Trevor Linden was stepping down as their president of hockey operations. Linden said in a statement he wanted to spend more time with his family while the club called the decision an amicable one.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s already speculation suggesting disagreements between Linden and others in the front office and ownership over the rebuilding club’s direction is the real reason behind his decision.
Speaking of the Canucks, they re-signed forward Jake Virtanen to a two-year contract worth $1.25-million per season.
THE DETROIT NEWS: Player agent Gunnar Svensson, who represents Detroit Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg, told Swedish publication Hockeybladet his client remains undecided if he’ll return to action in 2018-19.
“There have been some injury problems with his back. It is impossible to answer how it will be, for it one cannot know what it is now. He simply has not decided,” said Svensson. Wings GM Ken Holland has said he expects Zetterberg will report to training camp in September but he’s also uncertain about his status for the upcoming season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: We won’t know Zetterberg’s status for certain until training camp opens. He’ll have to pass the club medical before he can take to the ice with his teammates, which should provide the earliest indication as to whether he’ll be playing in 2018-19.
TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild avoided salary arbitration with winger Jason Zucker as the two sides agreed to a five-year, $27.5-million contract with an annual average value of $5.5 million. “He will be paid $5 million in the 2018-19 season, $6.25 million in 2019-20, $4.8 million in 2020-21, $6.25 million in 2021-22 and $5.2 million in 2022-23.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Zucker was the subject of trade speculation following a disappointing playoff performance this spring but it’s obvious now that he’s not going anywhere. The 26-year-old reached career highs with 33 goals and 31 assists for 64 points last season. His re-signing leaves the Wild with around $1.7-million in projected salary-cap space (stick tap to Cap Friendly), suggesting new GM Paul Fenton is probably done making any significant additions to the roster.
THE TENNESSEAN: Defenseman Dan Hamhuis is returning to the team where his NHL career began, inking a two-year contract with the Nashville Predators worth $2.5 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A good, affordable veteran addition by the Predators. Hamhuis, 35, won’t be logging the big minutes he did earlier in his career but he’s still capable of skating 20 minutes per game if necessary. He’ll make a solid third-pairing addition who can move up if necessary should injuries strike the top-four blueliners.
DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Stars re-signed forward Mattias Janmark to a one-year, $2.3-million contract.
Game recaps, analysis of latest trades, Canucks re-sign Gudbranson plus injury updates and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Colorado Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie factored in all of his club’s goals in a 5-4 overtime victory over the Vancouver Canucks. Barrie scored a goal and set up four others while Nathan MacKinnon’s game winner was also his 100th career NHL goal.
Colorado Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie had a five-point performance in a 5-4 win over the Vancouver Canucks (Photo via NHL Images).
Philadelphia Flyers winger Jakub Voracek scored the game-tying goal and the winner in overtime to lift his club to a 3-2 victory over the Montreal Canadiens. Flyers forward Travis Konecny missed the overtime period after suffering an apparent foot injury late in the third period. Earlier in the day, the Flyers announced forward Wayne Simmonds (upper-body injury) will be sidelined two-three weeks while backup goaltender Michal Neuvirth (lower body) is out four-to-five weeks.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Injuries are starting to pile up for the Flyers and could take a toll. The loss of Neuvirth and Brian Elliott forced them on Monday night to acquire netminder Petr Mrazek from the Detroit Red Wings.
Third-period goals by Noel Acciari, Matt Grzelcyk and David Krejci carried the Boston Bruins to a 3-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers. Earlier in the day, the Bruins acquired defenseman Nick Holden from the New York Rangers in exchange for defenceman Rob O’Gara and Boston’s third-round pick in the June draft.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: An affordable rental move by the Bruins to bolster their blueline depth on the left side without giving up too much in return. I daresay this also means the Bruins are out of the market for Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh, though perhaps they’ll revisit that interest if McDonagh remains available this summer. Holden’s an unrestricted free agent this summer. If he plays well with the Bruins, perhaps they’ll consider re-signing him.
The San Jose Sharks picked up their third straight win with a 3-2 victory over the St. Louis Blues, handing the latter their fourth straight loss. Earlier in the day, the Sharks acquired forward Eric Fehr from the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for a seventh-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sharks were expected to acquire some depth at center before the trade deadline. This move suggests GM Doug Wilson isn’t keen to pursue the big-ticket trade bait. Fehr spent most of this season in the minors and will be slotted into the role of the Sharks’ fourth-line center.
Dion Phaneuf scored his third goal in four games with the Los Angeles Kings as they held off the Winnipeg Jets 4-3. Kings captain Anze Kopitar collected his 800th career NHL point.
Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen turned in a 40-save shutout performance to give his club a 1-0 win over the Florida Panthers. James van Riemsdyk tallied the only goal.
Sergei Bobrovsky made 30 saves as the Columbus Blue Jackets edged the New Jersey Devils 2-1. Devils winger Taylor Hall scored his 25th goal and extended his points streak to 12 games.
Brayden Point scored twice and Andrei Vasilevskiy kicked out 35 shots as the Tampa Bay Lightning doubled up the Washington Capitals 4-2.
Nashville Predators netminder Juuse Saros made 34 saves while defensemen Ryan Ellis and Roman Josi each collected two assists in a 3-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings.
VANCOUVER SUN: The Canucks yesterday announced the re-signing of defenseman Erik Gudbranson to a three-year, $12-million contract extension. As per Cap Friendly, he’ll earn $4.5 million in total salary in 2018-19 and again in 2019-20, followed by $3 million in 2020-21.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Canucks management value Gudbranson’s experience, physical play and leadership. His critics, however, believe he’s too slow and injury-prone to be an effective long-term asset. Time will tell if this deal is worthwhile.
WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres defenseman Jake McCabe will under undergo season-ending shoulder surgery.
SPORTSNET: Former NHL star Jarome Iginla recently took part in a practice session with the Boston Bruins’ AHL affiliate in Providence. This doesn’t mean the Bruins are interested in signing him. Any club thinking of signing him must do so before the Feb. 26 trade deadline.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Iginla also reportedly underwent hip surgery four months ago. That could in part explain why he wasn’t signed last summer.
NBC SPORTS: Seattle will kick off a season-ticket drive on March 1 as part of the process in their attempt to land an NHL franchise.
Updates on Jason Spezza and Evander Kane plus latest on the Penguins, Avalanche & more in your Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports hearing Dallas Stars forward Jason Spezza’s name floated as a possible trade chip. The 34-year-old didn’t get his first goal of this season until Friday’s 5-0 win over the New York Islanders and had been moved from center to the wing. However, he notes Spezza has a no-movement clause during the season and carries a $7.5 million annual cap hit through 2018-19. “Just also in researching it, I think Dallas realizes you need offence to win in this league and Jason Spezza can still provide offence,” he said.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Spezza’s age, offensive struggles this season, no-movement clause and hefty salary-cap hit makes him very difficult to move via trade this season. His trade value will improve if he regains his scoring touch, but if that happens there’s no reason for the Stars to move him this season.
Nick Kypreos reports free-agent right wing Jarome Iginla has given up on playing in the NHL this season. He said Iginla could be hoping for an opportunity to skate with a team on a professional tryout offer by late-November.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I hate to say this, because Iginla is one of my favorite players, but I’ll be very surprised if an NHL team signs him. Most hockey fans would probably love to see Iginla return for one more season and one last shot at the Stanley Cup. However, I just don’t think that’s going to happen. His play noticeably declined over the previous two seasons and I don’t see him improving after missing training camp and the first two months of the regular season.
Kypreos also reports the Pittsburgh Penguins could be looking for an NHL-experienced backup goaltender and perhaps some experienced veteran leadership and offense. Friedman adds his belief the Pens may have made a last-second pitch for center Matt Duchene before he was dealt last week to the Ottawa Senators.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s not a lot of quality backups or veteran scorers currently available to the Penguins. For now, however, they’ll likely have to suck it up and endure until the Feb. 26 trade deadline, when the market should improve. Their early-season acquisition of Riley Sheahan hasn’t panned out yet, as he has only one point in 10 games with the Pens thus far.
Friedman also noted Toronto Maple Leafs forward Nikita Soshnikov’s clause in his contract giving him the option to return to the KHL for the remainder of this season if he hasn’t been called up by the Leafs by Nov. 14. He notes there’s an expectation the Leafs will do something to make room for Soshnikov on the roster.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Recent word from Soshnikov’s agent is they’re not entertaining offers yet from the KHL. Still, this situation could be worth keeping an eye on in the coming days.
Chris Johnston reports former NHL winger Ilya Kovalchuk could try to sign with an NHL team next summer as an unrestricted free agent. Kovalchuk attempted a return last summer but efforts to find a team failed.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kovalchuk’s NHL rights for this season are still owned by the New Jersey Devils. They couldn’t find another team to do a sign-and-trade with them and he opted to remain in the KHL for 2017-18. Provided his contract demands aren’t ridiculous, I can see him signing with an NHL club next summer.
FANRAG SPORTS: Chris Nichols cited Bob McKenzie’s appearance Friday on Ottawa’s TSN 1200 speculating Colorado Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic could still be “somewhat open for business” in the trade market. However, there’s less urgency now in the wake of the Duchene trade and the club’s improved performance this season. He doesn’t feel they’ll be as quick to move left wing Gabe Landeskog or defenseman Tyson Barrie. McKenzie noted Landeskog never wanted out of Colorado.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I believe Sakic’s made his big move for this season. Duchene wanted out, Landeskog and Barrie did not. If the Avs continue to improve there’s no reason to put either guy on the trade block.
Nichols also cited Darren Dreger’s Friday appearance on Buffalo’s WGR 550 discussing Evander Kane’s future with the Buffalo Sabres. While Kane’s off to a strong start to this season (16 points in 17 games), rival clubs could be reluctant to offer him a long-term contract via free agency in July.
Dreger notes Sabres management intend to remain patient with their banged-up roster, preferring to make long-term decisions over a quick fix. While there’s been no contract discussions yet between the Sabres and Kane’s representatives, Dreger thinks it’s still a possibility he could re-sign with them. He feels GM Jason Botterill has to weigh the potential return he could get for Kane with the risk of possibly losing the winger to free agency.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s still early in the season and Botterill isn’t under pressure right now to sign or trade Kane. That will ramp up, however, when the calendar flips to 2018 and the Feb 26 trade deadline approaches. A lot will depend upon Kane’s performance and whether he feels he has a future with the Sabres, as well as the club’s performance over the next three months.
As the Calgary Flames last week welcomed aging right wing Jaromir Jagr to their ranks, former Flames captain Jarome Iginla remains without a contract.
It’s possible the 40-year-old Iginla could sign with an NHL club in the near future. After all, if the 45-year-old Jagr could ink a deal days before the season opener, maybe a team will take a chance on “Iggy”?
Surely there’s a rebuilding club or a playoff contender that could benefit from his two decades of NHL experience, leadership and scoring skills?
The difference is, the older Jagr netted a respectable 46 points in 82 games last season with the Florida Panthers. Iginla managed just 14 goals and 27 points in 80 games split between the Colorado Avalanche and Los Angeles Kings.
Yes, the teams they played for last season had their issues but there’s no denying who had the better season. Had Iginla reached 20 goals and 40 points in 2016-17, as he’d done in 17 previous seasons, he’d would’ve opened this season with an NHL club.
Iginla’s best seasons, of course, came during his long tenure with the Flames from 1996 to 2013. For most of those years, he was the face of the franchise. For several of those years, especially during the Flames’ lean period from 1997 to 2003, he was often the only worthwhile player worth watching. A dynamic and exciting combination of strength, power and goal-scoring finesse.
The Flames’ longest-serving captain (2003-04 to 2012-13), Iginla was always approachable and accommodating with interviews. Always smiling. When things were going well, he deflected attention away from himself and onto his teammates. During the difficult times, he shouldered the burden. He was the consummate captain and teammate.
Unlike many of his contemporaries, Iginla fought his own on-ice battles and was unafraid to drop the gloves with anyone who challenged him. He also stood up for his teammates. His fearless on-ice style earned him considerable respect from his peers and made him a favorite of NHL fans.
Since Iginla’s 43-goal, 86-point performance in 2011-12, however, his production steadily eroded, bottoming out in last season’s woeful output. That fact wasn’t overlooked this year by NHL general managers.
There’s talk that Iginla’s waiting for the “right opportunity”. Whatever that is, it’s likely harder to find now than it was over the course of the summer.
Should Iginla fail to land with an NHL team, it’s assumed he could join Canada’s Men’s Olympic team for the Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. With the NHL not participating in the 2018 Games, he’d be the obvious choice to captain Team Canada.
Iginla’s been a champion at every level in international play, helping Canada win gold at the World Juniors (1996), World Championships (1997), World Cup of Hockey (2004) and the Olympics (2002, 2010). Indeed, he’ll be forever linked to Sidney Crosby’s “golden goal” in the 2010 Games, with Crosby’s call for the puck (“Iggy!”) setting up one of the most famous tallies in Canadian hockey history.
But having already reached the summit of international play, perhaps Iginla is more interested in one last shot to win the trophy that’s eluded him for 20 years: the Stanley Cup.
Iginla came oh-so-close to winning hockey’s ultimate prize in 2004, when he and his underdog Flames fell to the Tampa Bay Lightning in a thrilling seven-game Stanley Cup Final. They were perennial playoff contenders for the following four seasons but never got past the opening round.
Despite Iginla’s best efforts, the Flames become also-rans from 2010-11 to 2012-13. Facing free agency and with the Flames in rebuild mode during the lockout-shortened ’12-’13 campaign, he accepted a trade to the Pittsburgh Penguins. His reunion with Crosby, his Olympic teammate was short-lived, as the Penguins were swept from the Eastern Conference Finals by the Boston Bruins.
Iginla’s final playoff appearance came with the Bruins a year later, falling in the second round to the Montreal Canadiens in seven games. He subsequent sign with the Avalanche, who were coming off a 112-point campaign and looked like a club on the rise in the Western Conference. Sadly, the Avs imploded and never reached the postseason during Iginla’s tenure.
During 2016-17, it was painfully apparent that Iginla’s skills were fading. The once-dominant power forward was always a slow starter, but by last December, it was clear he couldn’t find his offensive groove.
Shipped to the Kings at the trade deadline, Iginla managed six goals and nine points in 19 games. That included his “Gordie Howe hat trick” performance against the Flames in Calgary on March 29. For a brief moment, he was the Iginla of old, but that game may be his last hurrah in the NHL.
If Iginla’s NHL career has come to an end, he departs with an impressive resume. 625 goals and 675 assists for 1,300 points in 1,554 games. Winner of two Richard Trophies (2002, 2004) and the Art Ross (2002). The Flames’ all-time leader – by wide margins – in games (1,219), goals (525) and points (1,095).
Like Jagr, Iginla is a future Hall of Famer. He’ll be forever remembered as one of the game’s great power forwards.
Time, however, caught up with Iginla much faster that it did with Jagr.
Perhaps the final chapter in Iginla’s NHL career has yet to be written.
As contract talks continue, Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak will miss the start of training camp .
Updates on David Pastrnak, Matt Duchene, Jarome Iginla & Riley Sheahan in your NHL rumor mill.
CSNNE.COM: Joe Haggerty reports Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak will miss the start of the club’s training camp as his agent J.P. Barry and Bruins general manager Don Sweeney continue their contract discussions. He will remain in the Czech Republic until a contract is agreed upon. Barry said he’s spoken with Sweeney several times, “but no breakthrough yet.”
Haggerty also reports the gap between the two sides appears to have narrowed a bit. The Bruins are currently unwilling to go much past the $6.75 million per season the Calgary Flames gave to winger Johnny Gaudreau, while the Pastrnak camp could be convinced to accept $7.5 million annually, similar to the annual cap hit of St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko. Haggarty suggests that leaves room for agreement on around $7 million annually on a long-term deal.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: While there’s concern Pastrnak’s negotiations could drag on throughout this month, it’s possible it could be resolved quickly. The fact Barry and Sweeney continue to talk is a good sign.
There’s also talk that there are KHL teams interested in signing Pastrnak, I doubt he’s interested. Those offers are likely being used solely as leverage by his agent in those discussions with the Bruins. If negotiations stall it could give rise to trade speculation but I don’t believe the Bruins have any intention of shopping him.
UPDATE: The Bruins announced this morning they’ve agreed to a six-year, $40-million contract with Pastrnak. The average annual salary is $6.67 million.
NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien cites a report by The Athletic’s Aaron Portzline saying the Columbus Blue Jackets haven’t offered up forward Boone Jenner and defenseman Ryan Murray to the Colorado Avalanche for center Matt Duchene. However, Portzline believes that package could address the Avalanche’s needs. O’Brien suggests that seems like a great deal for the Blue Jackets and could make some sense for the Avs.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: O’Brien takes a deeper dive into this issue and it’s worth the read. I think the Jackets are comfortable parting with Murray but not so much with Jenner. The Avs could be interested in both players as part of the return, though I suspect they’d also want a top prospect and/or a first-round pick included in the package.
If there’s no better offers out there for Duchene, perhaps Avs GM Joe Sakic might be willing to consider such a deal, especially if he decides he doesn’t want uncertainty over the center’s future hanging over his club’s season. Of course, if the Jackets aren’t willing to part with Jenner or another young forward, Sakic probably wouldn’t be interested.
CALGARY SUN: Michael Traikos reports the agent for unrestricted free agent winger Jarome Iginla said his client is being selective in his search for a new team. Traikos speculates the 40-year-old Iginla could prefer “playing meaningful minutes on a Stanley Cup-contending team, in a city that makes sense for his family,” suggesting Edmonton, Calgary or Pittsburgh as possible options. However, those teams might their young players first before taking a chance on a past-his-prime veteran. Agent Don Meehan said his client isn’t interested in going the professional tryout offer route.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Iginla remains a widely-respected veteran but I believe there are concerns among NHL GMs over the decline in his speed and production in recent years. A contender could still give Iginla a shot on a bonus-laden one-year deal but that might not come until later this month or perhaps before the start of the season. Same goes for Jaromir Jagr, who’s also waiting for a contract offer.
PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Jason Mackey reports various sources claim the Pittsburgh Penguins are among the clubs expressing interest in Detroit Red Wings center Riley Sheahan. Mackey believes Sheahan could be a good fit with the Penguins but it’s tougher to say if a deal is imminent, though he doesn’t expect it would take much to get it done. Sheahan’s $2.075 million annual cap hit would fit into the Penguins’ remaining cap space. The cap-strapped Wings are looking to shed salary and to acquire young defensemen, prompting Mackey to suggest Pens blueliner Derrick Pouliot could benefit from a change of scenery.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sheahan could benefit from playing for coach Mike Sullivan as defenseman Justin Schultz did when he joined the Pens in a midseason trade in 2016. Pouliot’s struggled to crack the Penguins roster and would probably stand a better chance with the rebuilding Red Wings. He also carries an affordable $800K cap hit for this season.
Of course, it remains to be seen if the Pens pull this off. GM Jim Rutherford could wait to evaluate his roster through training camp before deciding if he needs to bring in help at center.