Jarome Iginla hasn’t been a Penguin for over a week and it’s still unclear how things will go for him as a Pittsburgh Penguin, but talk of the Penguins having no chance of resigning Iginla is said to be off-base at this point, according to those with close ties to Iginla.
Just minutes after the Iginla trade was announced Thursday morning, TSN’s panelists of NHL Insiders including Bob McKenzie, Darren Dreger and Craig Button broke down the trade. McKenzie who is the best in the business saw the trade as a pure rental from Pittsburgh’s standpoint. “This is a pure rental for the Pittsburgh Penguins,” TSN’s Bob McKenzie said. “We don’t believe there is any chance what so ever that Pittsburgh Penguins are in a position where they can possibly sign Jarome Iginla moving forward.”
That could very well become true but as info is starting to get leaked days after, all indications are Iginla had his sights set on joining the Penguins for a couple weeks before the trade between the Penguins and Flames was consummated. In fact, league sources say Iginla’s mind was made up on joining the Penguins from the start (weeks in advance), despite Iginla not making that known to the Flames right off the bat.
The interesting twist is that word in league circles is that the message Iginla has given in his inner circle, including his reps at Newport Sports is that he wanted to go to Pittsburgh because it’s the place he can strongly envision finishing his career at.
“He wants to win multiple Cups,” a source close to Iginla said.
How Iginla ended up in Pittsburgh has prompted talk around the league of there being tampering prior to the trade between Pittsburgh and Iginla’s camp. “It’s definitely out there,” an NHL source said of the tampering speculation surrounding the Penguins and Iginla after Iginla squashed the deal to Boston.
There is going to be no way anyone can prove tampering happened, so even if the Penguins did, which I don’t believe they did, nothing is going to happen regarding action from the league.
That said, regarding Iginla’s future, there is surprisingly a lot of buzz in league circles that Iginla orchestrated the trade to Penguins because this is where he wants to resign and expects to be reasonable on his next contract.
To further that speculation, Renaud Lavoie of RDS writes tonight, “Jarome Iginla first choice is to sign a extension with Penguins. If not possible, Kings are a strong option.”
The Kings were the one team Iginla would only waive his no trade clause to last winter but the Flames were not willing to move him. This year, Iginla turned down a chance to join the Kings, picking Pittsburgh over them and Boston.
Any deal from the Penguins perspective that they will be interested in is a three year deal in the $13 to $15 million range, sources speculate. The team offered Shane Doan similar money last summer when the Penguins made a play for him. Doan at the time like Iginla was 35 years old.
Pittsburgh has 15 players under contract next season for around $53 million. The salary cap is $64.3 million in 2013-2014. League executives expect the cap to rise for 2014-2015 and push $70 million again by 2015-2016.
The Penguins top free agents this summer are Iginla, Brenden Morrow, Douglas Murray, Matt Cooke, Pascal Dupuis and Craig Adams. Cooke currently carries a cap hit of $1.8 million, Dupuis $1.5 million. Both are in line for their final pay days and Dupuis could land a deal in excess of $3 million per season on the open market.
Signing Iginla would make if difficult for the Penguins to resign both players, who management have a strong admiration for.
Moving forward, though, the Penguins have cap flexibility on how they want to construct their team, which keeps Iginla in play but it’s going to come down to $$$. They have just four players signed for the 2014-2015 season with Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang scheduled to be free agents on July 1, 2014 and set to command huge money. Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskanen are also UFA’s that summer. Brandon Sutter is a restricted free agent in 2014.