Guest Post: Will Jarome Iginla be a difference maker for a Cup contender?

Occasionally we'll feature guest posts at Puck Drunk Love. This article was penned by Michael Pina and offers a look at the trade deadline and how a guy like Jarome Iginla may give a team that extra edge in their pursuit of the Cup. 

Every year, in every one of North America’s four major professional sports, the much anticipated trade deadline holds more season-altering potential than any other event. It’s a date that allows organizations to make self-aware statements on where it is they stand, and how you might expect them to perform down the season’s homestretch and into the playoffs.

Is Team X looking to fill a weakness or cash out on a strength? Are they comfortably standing pat or desperately scrambling? Are they more interested in making short term decisions to save their respective jobs as highly paid decision-makers at the cost of meaningful issues rising from the muck at some point in the future?

In hockey, we’ve seen several major deals take place before the trade deadline in recent years, and often times at least one will have a significant impact on the postseason—teams that feel they’re on the cusp of making Stanley Cup playoff noise aggressively acquiring what they see as the necessary piece(s). 

Two years ago the Los Angeles Kings acquired Dustin Penner from the Edmonton Oilers. The following season they zoomed through the playoffs on their way to their first and only Stanley Cup trophy, with Penner notching 11 crucial points along the way.

In 2009 the Pittsburgh Penguins struck a deal for then 38-year-old forward Bill Guerin. Only Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin registered more points during their 24 game playoff run to a championship just a few months later.

Examples like this can go on and on, and even though most of the transactions wind up looking ultimately meaningless in the big picture, there’s no denying how potentially important one day can be in not only changing the fortunes of a season, but also those of a smart (or not so smart) franchise.

Thanks to an unresolved lockout that dragged deep into its season, the NHL’s trade deadline is taking place on April 3, 2013, allowing teams much less time than normal to evaluate what it is they have in house. But just like every other year, multiple rumors are making their way across the internet, weaving their through the brains of hockey fans, players, coaches, and general managers.

The formula of rumor creation is quite simple: take a really good player on a team that’s going nowhere (your bait) and look for potential contenders that need said player’s ability to take them over the top (your hopeful buyer). This year the market’s most succulent catch is Jarome Iginla, a 35-year-old forward who made the All-Star game as recently as last season (his sixth) but stands as someone clearly past his excellent prime.

Roughly seven or eight years ago he was one of the game’s most feared scorers, always a threat in the open ice, and widely respected by players and coaches throughout the league; 10 years from now it’s difficult to imagine Iginla not being a member of the Hall of Fame.

Now? He’s less capable than in the absolute peaks of his career, but still a force, with a team-high 18 points in 21 games. What the trade deadline will make him is relevant, even though he’s probably no longer one of the best 5- 10 players in the league. His importance as a difference maker has potential to reach where it was nearly 10 years ago, when he led the Calgary Flames within one game of a Stanley Cup title.

If traded to a team like the Boston Bruins or Pittsburgh Penguins, as has been heavily rumored, those two already legitimate franchises could easily elevate themselves to Stanley Cup favorite levels.

This is the type of power the trade deadline holds. And if Jarome Iginla— or, for that matter, Daniel Alfredsson, Danny Briere, Corey Perry, Ruslan Fedotenko, Tyler Kennedy, Iginla teammate Jay Bouwmeester, and Mike Ribeiro—is dealt to a contender, we could see its influence on the game shine brighter than ever before.

Michael Pina is a writer for ESPN’s TrueHoop Network and Follow him on Twitter @MichaelVPina.

About David Rogers

Editor for The Comeback and Contributing Editor for Awful Announcing. Lover of hockey, soccer and all things pop culture.