It seems every NHL trade deadline has its leading man. With Rick Nash taking center stage during the countdown to last year's deadline, another Western Conference captain has emerged into the spotlight.
Calgary Flames captain Jarome Iginla is the focal point of most trade conversations as the April 3 deadline creeps closer to fruition. With the Flames struggling to reestablish themselves as a playoff contender over the last few seasons, rumors of a potential Iginla deal has surfaced from time-to-time but never gone through.
With the 35-year-old captain months away from unrestricted free agency, many believe his desire to win a Stanley Cup, and his inability to do so in Calgary, will finally force the Flames hand in executing a deal.
It is believed Iginla's chase of the Cup is the leading factor in where he wants to play. Given the no-movement clause in his contract, he will have final say in any trade. This has lead to a short list of, arguably, the NHL's best teams this season, which essentially could be the final four teams remaining when the NHL playoffs reach the conference championship stage.
Whether those teams have interest in Iginla isn't in question.
Calgary's asking price is.
According to multiple reports, it is believed that Flames general manager Jay Feaster is requiring a first-round draft selection, a top prospect and a secondary prospect in exchange for Iginla. While many believe there is enough gas left in the 35-year-old's tank to be an impact player during a playoff run, there is question whether it's worth a ransom so high.
Besides Iginla's age, the reality of the situation is that he will become an unrestricted free agent at the conclusion of the season. Is it wise to mortgage the future to such an extreme in order to make a solitary push for the Cup? Calgary certainly hopes one team will view the situation in such a way.
When looking at the Eastern Conference, the Bruins and Penguins have emerged as the two favorites to battle for the conference's crown. Over the weekend, Pittsburgh acquired former-Dallas Stars captain Brenden Morrow via trade and then continued to add to their roster by trading for San Jose Sharks defenseman Douglas Murray.
Despite these moves, the Penguins are still believed to be involved in discussions for Iginla, according to Pierre LeBrun of ESPN.
Boston has been framed as a team that is doing everything in their power to acquire a top-six forward. At times, reports have made it seem as though the franchise covets Iginla the most out of the four interested clubs. With Pittsburgh bolstering their roster for a run, the Bruins might be feeling pressured to make a significant move.
Chicago started off the 2013 season more successfully than any other team in NHL history but is starting to feel the heat from other Western Conference contenders such as the Anaheim Ducks and the Kings. Currently in the midst of a two-game losing streak, both defeats came at the hands of the Ducks and Kings, which consisted off a playoff-esque battle with Los Angeles on Monday night.
Los Angeles has come together over the last few weeks and while they trail Anaheim for the Pacific Division lead by 10 points, the Kings displayed last year that division championships have nothing to do with Stanley Cup championships. The only time Iginla found himself in the Final came in 2004 when current Kings' coach Darryl Sutter was head coach of the Flames. If any body knows how best to utilize Iginla, it would be him.
With the deadline just over a week away, these teams will likely try to talk down the price on Iginla in hopes of loading up for a championship run. Conversely, the Flames will hope the quality of competition in these discussions will help propel a struggling franchise into future success.