After yet another season of proving he could very well be immune to aging, it appears Jarome Iginla is getting set to test the free agent market.
Signed to a one-year deal with the Boston Bruins last season, the 37-year-old winger turned in an impressive campaign, scoring 30 goals and 61 points. He gelled incredibly well with his line-mates, Milan Lucic and David Krejci, and was a big reason why Boston ended up winning the President’s Trophy.
Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli began intimating a couple months ago that Iginla was someone the team wanted to resign. However, a tight salary cap situation doesn’t give him a ton of flexibility. With Iginla announcing his interest in seeing what other offers he can get, there’s a good chance Boston may not be able to keep the future Hall of Famer around.
First of all, the Bruins have other, younger members on the roster who should be considered for contract renewals. Reilly Smith, seen by many as just a small piece of last summer’s Tyler Seguin trade, turned in an impressive season last year. His 51 points were a huge surprise – his previous career high was nine – and his plus/minus rating was a +28. Defenseman Torey Krug likewise went from unknown to key contributor, scoring 40 points and helping ignite some life into a Boston power play that was once susceptible to appearing bland.
Both Smith and Krug are restricted free agents, and the Bruins definitely need to lock them up. Neither is looking at a huge contract, but still, Boston needs to get both of them on the books while working with the minimal cap space they’re currently looking at. If the club wants to keep Krug and Smith, while also retaining Iginla, things could get tricky.
Making things more complicated is the fact that other teams are already lining up for Iginla’s services. Word is the Detroit Red Wings, Vancouver Canucks and Minnesota Wild are all reaching out to show their interest. And these teams can offer him something the Bruins can’t; a two-year deal. Knowing he may not have a ton of time left in the NHL, Iginla obviously wants to sign with a team who can promise him money for more than one season. Boston, unfortunately, doesn’t appear to be in a place where they can do this.
The Bruins do have one thing going for them, though. Despite actively searching for a two-year contract, Iginla has apparently made it known that there’s just one team he’d accept a one-year deal with, and that’s Boston. If the team is as interested in resigning him as reported, this is a big edge to have.
Again, though, any offer would have to involve freeing up enough cap space to keep both Iginla and the aforementioned youngsters, assuming this is what the Bruins are hoping to do. Right now, Boston has just $1.6 million in available space, and unless they can convince Iginla, Smith and Krug to take significant pay cuts, it won’t be enough to work with.
Obviously, trades are always an option when it comes to making room for contracts. Word is the Bruins plan on being active this summer, so they might be able to free up the necessary cap space needed to retain everyone they’d like. At the same time, Chiarelli needs to weigh his options here. Iginla had a great season, but is resigning the veteran worth shipping away potential core players?
We’ll find out soon enough. Iginla sounds like he’s willing to work with Boston and give them advantages when it comes to a new deal. However, who’s to say he won’t be swayed if another team can offer more money and years? Though it’s still more than possible for Iginla to resign with the Bruins, the chances appear to be shrinking as the team edges closer to the salary cap.