FA fits and flops at the midway point
January, 1, 2014
By Craig Custance | ESPN Insider
AP Photo/Mark ZaleskiJarome Iginla has been a great fit with the Boston Bruins this season.During all the Boston Bruins' internal meetings before the start of free agency, Jarome Iginla wasn’t a player discussed at length at all. Really, he was hardly mentioned.
So when free agency closed in, he just wasn’t a guy on Boston’s radar, mostly because of fallout from the trade deadline fiasco in which Iginla chose to play for the Penguins over the Bruins.
“Iggy was never really on our list,” Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli said when we chatted earlier this week. “I didn’t think he would be interested in us. I think he thought the same thing, that I wouldn’t be interested.”
One call changed that. Chiarelli heard from Iginla’s agent, Don Meehan -- who was testing the waters -- and the Bruins were honest in assessing their interest. They were already down the road with talks to sign Daniel Alfredsson, a player Chiarelli long coveted and knew well from his days in Ottawa.
But if things with Alfredsson didn’t work out ...
Chiarelli’s opinion of Iginla never wavered, even after he wasn’t able to land him at the deadline and even after Iginla’s underwhelming performance against Boston in the playoffs. Iginla had 12 points in 15 playoff games for the Penguins, but was completely shut down by the Bruins. In his defense, there aren’t a lot of Penguins that will be submitting highlight tapes to the Hall of Fame from that series. Boston scouts saw a team that was too stationary, making it easier for the Bruins to defend Pittsburgh’s high-powered offense. But until then, Iginla had been productive.
So maybe he was Plan B after Alfredsson, but considering some of the money that was spent in free agency, and the mulligans teams might already want to use, the one-year, $6 million deal Iginla signed in July is looking good. Really good.
He has 12 goals and 15 assists as his season reaches the midway point, and that’s production close to what Detroit is getting in Alfredsson, who has 10 goals and 19 assists in 35 games with the Red Wings.
Iginla’s production, as it tends to do, is picking up as the season progresses. After scoring three goals in October, he had seven in December, finishing the last month of 2013 with 12 points in 13 games.
According to leftwinglock.com, the line of Milan Lucic, David Krejci and Iginla leads the NHL with 28 goals as a trio, proving that Iginla is more than capable of filling in for Nathan Horton on a line that has clicked so well in the past for Boston. He also does it at a savings of more than $30 million.
“For a 36-year-old, it takes a little bit of time. ... He’s starting to get his touch back,” Chiarelli said. “He scores goals in a bunch of different ways. He plays a heavy game. It’s been a good signing.”
Not every GM can say that about his summer moves.