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Did Iginla make right choice in LA?

Did Iginla make right choice in LA? Bridget Samuels via Flickr

Forward moved from Avalanche to Kings on Trade Deadline Day


Wednesday’s NHL trade deadline was one of the quietest ones in recent memory. While there wasn’t a massive, balance-shifting trade, one big name did get moved. Two-time Olympic gold medalist Jarome Iginla was moved from the Colorado Avalanche to the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday.

Iginla being traded wasn’t all that surprising as the 39-year-old had previously expressed his desire to be moved to a Stanley Cup contender to take another run at the Cup. What is a bit surprising is the team he chose to go to.

With their win last night, Los Angeles moved into the final wild card spot in the Western Conference. However, they are only one point ahead of the St. Louis Blues and the Blues have two games in hand.

Plenty of games remain to decide who will end up with that final wild card spot. However, there are things that are working against the Kings.

Apart from Jeff Carter, Los Angeles has had a hard time putting the puck in the back of the net this season. They sit in the bottom third in the NHL in goals scored and goals per game average. The situation is so bad that Iginla’s eight goals on the year have him  tied for fifth-most on the Kings’ roster at the moment. They’ve also been a bit inconsistent this year.

Los Angeles has won three or more games in a row just four times so far. They are currently in a stretch where they are 4-4-2 in their previous 10 games. One bright spot for this team has been their defensive play. They are in the top-10 in goals against and that could get them into the playoffs.

While it’s surprising Iginla chose to go to a team on the playoff bubble, it’s also surprising the team went after him.

Despite having over 600 goals in his career, the right winger is not the player he once was. He is on pace to set career lows in goals, assists, and points. Again, he only has eight goals on the season and has scored only once in the last 13 games. So if the Kings wanted more offense, this was not the best option.

If this was the Iginla from 10 years ago, you make the trade in a heartbeat. Even if it was the Iginla from five years ago, it is a good deal. But this is an Iginla that is at the twilight of his career.

Despite this, though, the Edmonton native brings intangibles. He brings playoff experience, leadership, and an in-your-face, physical game that fits well with Los Angeles.

There is a chance this move could reinvigorate Iginla. In last night’s game, he was on the Kings’ top line with Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaborik. Getting more top line minutes could maybe help him rediscover his scoring touch.

He was on the team’s second power-play unit, as well. Iginla has shown that he can still contribute on the man advantage as half of his goals this year have come with his team on the power-play.

He’s also reunites with coach Darryl Sutter, who coached Iginla’s Calgary Flames all the way to Game 7 of the 2004 Stanley Cup Final. Being on a team in the middle of a playoff chase could be a motivating factor for the aging veteran, as well.

It is just still surprising that Iginla OK’d a move to a team that’s fighting for a playoff spot instead of one with a more secure playoff position. However, Los Angeles has shown that, sometimes, all you need to do is get into the playoffs to do damage. In 2012, the Kings won their first Stanley Cup as the Western Conference’s eighth seed.

Now, those of us without connections to the Avalanche won’t know if Los Angeles was the only team interested in the veteran. We also may not know where he would’ve wanted to go to.

Only time will tell if this move will pay off for both Iginla and the Kings. With him still not having committed to returning next season, this very well could be Iginla’s last chance at a Cup. And if that’s so, at first glance, this was not the right choice.