Late last night, the Calgary Flames dealt their best player of the last decade, Jarome Iginla, to Pittsburgh for three young assets.
Pittsburgh Penguins receive RW Jarome Iginla
Jarome Iginla has long been the face of the Calgary Flames, putting together a tremendous career, where for many seasons he was a top player in the league at his position and role. Iginla is a unique player, especially on an advanced stats level, as he has been able to maintain high percentages. When he is on the ice, both Iginla and his teammates have consistently been able to score at a much higher than league-average rate. Gabriel Desjardins' data at behindthenet.ca goes back to 2007-08, and that timeframe illustrates this perfectly. I'll use data for just Calgary forwards and 30 games played as a cutoff (10 games played this season).
Jarome Iginla - stats and team ranks
*Prorated to 82
competition and zone start percentage are Iginla's ranks among Flames players
Team GF is
Calgary's ranking among NHL teams
The 2007-08, 2008-09, and 2010-11 seasons are where Iginla scored 98, 89, and 86 points respectively. In 2009-10, 2011-12, and 2012-13, his point totals have been 69, 67, and 22 in 30 games. He has been a bad puck possession player for a number of seasons, specifically since he has taken on tougher assignments, yet has always managed to produce because of a few factors, particularly his great finishing. That has not been the case for the current season, although usually that skill does not tend to go with age as much as other attributes usually related to puck possession, so it's plausible that he has just had a run of bad luck like in 2009-10.
Except for 2010-11, Iginla has been a top line forward on a poor to very poor offensive team, giving some concern over his negative Relative Corsi numbers. It is possible Pittsburgh is getting the top line Iginla, but more likely, they're getting a good but not great player. Iginla is 35, turning 36 in the summer, and his best days are likely behind him. He is also on an expiring contract.
I discussed in the previous trade column that Pittsburgh was lacking top forward depth relative to other contenders, but after these two moves, that certainly is no longer the case.
Calgary Flames receive W Ben Hanowski, W Kenneth Agostino, and Pittsburgh's first round selection in 2013
Pittsburgh's third round pick in 2009, Hanowski is finishing up his senior year at St. Cloud State, with his last few games about to be played at the NCAA tournament. The former record-setting player in high school wasn't a significant contributor at the beginning of his college career, but has come together well in his Junior and Senior seasons. He has played fine in 2012-13, especially considering that he has suffered from concussion issues. He is a smart player who makes quick decisions, and who displays above-average playmaking skills and good awareness off the puck. Hanowski has solid size, protects the puck well and is willing to do the dirty work in the tough areas. His best skill is his high-end shot. Hanowski's main issue is his skating, which isn't horrible, but is certainly below average. He projects as an okay second line forward who is good on the power play. He should be turning pro soon, and as a 22-year-old forward, his transition to the pro game will be interesting to watch. For Calgary's sake, they hope he can hit the ground running given he is an older prospect. They can sign him by August 15th, otherwise he become a free agent.
A fifth round pick by Pittsburgh in 2010, Agostino was Yale's leading scorer this season. He was an invite to USA's World Junior summer camp two World Junior cycles ago but didn't end up making the team. The junior forward is a smart and skilled forward although I wouldn't describe him as dynamic, more above average in both areas. Even though he is fairly small (5'11"), he is a strong player who grinds out pucks in battles and he has a good on-ice work ethic. I have heard divided takes on his skating, with one source saying it is solid, and another saying it could use some work. I sit somewhere in the middle, saying he is average but could have a better top gear for a smaller guy. The soon-to-be 21-year-old winger projects as a third line forward.
Pittsburgh is currently second in the NHL standings. That would give them the 29th overall pick right now although that would change on how the playoffs go. It is hard to judge who they would take with the pick, but the 2013 draft class appears very strong even that far down the board. Taking a five-pick range from 29, my 27-31 ranked prospects in the 2013 draft, would provide a prospect that would be a close third in Calgary's prospect rankings, after John Gaudreau and top prospect Sven Baertschi. I would project those five prospects as good second line forwards or second pairing defensemen, who will all be late considerations for my summer Top 100 NHL-drafted prospects. There is a good chance Calgary can get a great prospect with that draft pick, even with it being so late.
Calgary GM Jay Feaster was left with few options to make a deal. Iginla used leverage from his no-trade clause to whittle down his list to three teams, per ESPN's Pierre LeBrunPierre said the Kings were never close. The reported haul from Boston was forward prospect Alexander Khokhlachev, defenseman Matt Bartkowski, and a conditional first round pick (based on Iginla being re-signed). With the Pittsburgh haul, Calgary picked the better option if the pick was indeed conditional, seeing as the first round pick has so much value, and Iginla would be very unlikely to sign in Boston with their poor cap situation.
The Flames received two above-average prospects in Hanowski and Agostino, with Hanowski being the better one and Agostino being a closer-to-average prospect. The two players bring the kind of value you would expect from prospects who are older and who project as average NHLerswhich isn't a ton of value, but it is something.
Calgary also gets a first round pick, even if late, in a strong and deep draft class. The average value of a late first rounder is about half a win above a player's cap hit in the first seven controllable years, with a mid-first being a little more than one win above a player's cap hit. I would qualify this draft pick in a good draft class at about the latter value, keeping in mind the variance in the potential value would have a range from no wins to potentially many wins given the nature of the draft and prospects.
From the Penguins perspective, Iginla is probably just an above-average player now at his age, although with his track record, there is potential for him to be better, even if it isn't the most likely scenario. Pittsburgh acquires him for now a quarter of a shortened season and their playoff run.
The chances of Iginla providing that type of value for Pittsburgh in such a short time span as the three assets they gave to Calgary over the life Calgary holds their rights is unlikely, as some of the value Pittsburgh loses is sacrificed to add an extra good piece to their already great team to help with their playoff run. There is always a chance Iginla could re-sign to add another element to this trade, so that could be a minor added value. Pittsburgh has 16 players signed for 2013-14 and just a little over $10 million in cap space.
Prior to their past two recent trades, Pittsburgh had a top-10 system. Now they are bumped down a couple of spots to a top-15 system, more so due to the Joe Morrow loss. Still from the Penguins perspective, they preserved many key foundations for their future that are in their organization.
Calgary got the most value from this deal, which shouldn't be hard to do for renting a likely declining Iginla on an expiring deal with so few games left to play, but it wasn't overwhelming value. They received one quality young asset to help in their rebuilding process in the draft pick, and a couple of solid but not great pieces in the two prospects. This seems like a case where the slim pickings of trade partners really affected Calgary. If a non-conditional first round pick was included in the package from Boston, their deal would have been the better one, but without it, the Penguins deal was preferable. Even though Calgary gets the edge in this deal, it is not a big edge. Given how much top rental players usually get at the deadline, they certainly didn't get a great haul.
Ray Shero and the Penguins get a key piece for their playoff run without forfeiting their best prospects, paying a significant but not an exorbitant price.
Corey Pronman is an author of Hockey Prospectus.
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