Before someone reminds me that this is hardly a new idea, let me just set the table a bit differently today….
I realize there has been talk, in the past, of the Maple Leafs acquiring Jarome Iginla. (At least I think there has…maybe not so much this season? Or maybe I’m just making things up…) But regardless, I think it's worthy of discussion- now. Because things are different now than they were at any time in the last two seasons. And everyone involved in this possible Calgary-Toronto discussion is in a brave, new world heading into the 2012-’13 NHL season.
The Flames are coming off (like our beloved Maple Leafs) yet another atrocious (well, not atrocious, maybe, but certainly not successful, despite outstanding goalkeeping…) non-playoff season. Their GM, Jay Feaster, surely will hire his own man behind the bench this summer, as the lengthy, sibling-filled Sutter era seems poised to come to an un-satisfying end for all concerned. Feaster needs and wants to make his mark as the guy in charge. Flame fans have seen a team that came painfully close to a Cup not that many years ago age not so gracefully. It is, by modern standards, an old, over-priced roster in need of an infusion of young talent. Goaltending (Kiprusoff) they have largely had; leadership they’ve certainly had, at least on paper. Experience? Tons of that, too.
Success, though, not so much.
Closer to home the Leafs are building what most fans still hope is a young, talented core, with more emerging talent on the way via the now well-stocked and improved pipeline. But we don’t have certainty in terms of our goaltending (unless you believe Reimer, Scrivens or one of the other kids can handle the load next season), we don’t have leadership and we don’t have veteran experience.
It would just seem logical for these two teams to get together to the mutual benefit of both franchises. As in, we’ll take your two “old”, expensive guys who haven’t been able to lead you to the playoffs, and you take some of our young talent that just may develop better with you than they have with us.
Feaster is no hockey fool. He was part of building a very nice team in Tampa, and won a Cup in a market that, well, doesn’t really need a hockey team, but, what can I say. They’re there. The guy won there and while it was Rick Dudley (I am mis-remembering this one?) or someone else who set the table for him, Feaster, like Burke did years later in Anaheim, closed the deal. So the guy knows, we presume, how to add pieces to a hockey club.
While I’m not a numbers guy, as regular visitors here will attest, my understanding is that Iginla has a year left on his current contract. He is scheduled to make 7 million next season. (I love how we throw staggering numbers out there like it's nothing…you know, three million for this guy, six million for that guy…) For his part, Kiprusoff has two more years on his deal, worth less than 6 million a year. I would guess Kipper has two more good years in him, but don’t hold me to that.
So while these guys are costly, don’t they provide at least some of what we are yearning for in Leaf universe? Experience, leadership—and goaltending.
I well realize some wonder (even question) if Iginla is a big-time leader. Heck, we lived through that debate with Mats Sundin here for years. We’re used to it. But Mats sure was a fine player, as Jarome has been for ages in Calgary. Is Iginla tired, a step slower, worn down after years of fighting, taking a beating, etc.?
All the more reason to consider a guy like him, as long as we all know we aren’t getting the Iginla of 8 years ago. (And who knows, maybe he’d sign here for reasonable money next summer?) But he is a player that, if we set realistic expectations, say 20-24 goals a season, and hope he stays healthy and we didn’t over play him, could really contribute here. Maybe even be a bit of a, dare I say it, Gary Roberts?
Kiprusoff would (if this guy can’t play goal in Toronto, well I don’t know who we’ll ever find…) surely be able to provide us with some short-term quality goaltending, as long as we don’t jump overboard every time he has a lousy game, as all goalies do.
Again, if we have more modest expectations—like him playing really well half the time, just "OK" a quarter of the time and sieve-like the rest of the time, we can handle it.
Now, I’m not a cap guy, so I gather we would have to move people and salary to make this work. In light of the Phaneuf trade, I don’t see Calgary being prepared to take more fourth-line guys for two (albeit aging) stars. So we would have to cough up something of substance, something that will give Calgary fans hope and the franchise itself some value.
Just tossing names out there, how would you feel if we sent them Reimer, Schenn and a promising young Marlie forward? (If I “name names”, people will be upset, because everyone seems to love Kadri, Colborne, Ashton, and the current juniors the Leaf have already drafted. You generally have give something to get something, though…)
To reiterate a point I’ve made many times: I love Reimer, his attitude and everything about him except for the fact that he had an unfortunate setback this season and, like most young goalies, has things he needs to work on. And I’ve often cautioned here against trading young defensemen. But clearly something seems amiss with Schenn and the organization. (And aren’t these both western Canadian kids? They’d be popular in Calgary, for sure…)
To be clear, you know this is not a rumor site. That’s not my thing and I don't suggest this as anything other than a discussion point for this particular forum. We’ve all opined on what the Leafs “need”, and I’m simply suggesting the two Flame veterans would provide some of what’s missing here. Would it ensure success? Heck, I have no idea. Tampa Bay couldn’t win this year with Stamkos, Lecavalier and St. Louis (maybe they would have been fine if they still had Richards…) and Anaheim is not a good team even though they have stars like Bobby Ryan and Getzlaf. So who knows?
We’ve got lots of time to debate the merits of any potential moves. But it’s going to be, hockey-wise, a very long and potentially dull spring (63 days ‘till the draft, …62…61…) so why not start the discussion?