NHL insider: Unlike Guerin in 2009, Iginla does not fit with Pens
By Rob Rossi
Published: Saturday, March 16, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Jarome Iginla cannot be the next Bill Guerin.
General manager Ray Shero must know this with the NHL trade deadline (April 3) fast approaching.
Iginla, the Calgary Flames captain, is the right winger most often linked to the Penguins, for obvious reasons:
• He is an impending unrestricted free agent.
• He has yet to hoist the Stanley Cup.
• He found a home on center Sidney Crosby's Team Canada line during the 2010 Olympic tournament.
Iginla, as was Guerin at the 2009 trade deadline, seemingly is the perfect fit for a Penguins squad that has spent the past few weeks establishing itself as the Eastern Conference favorite.
Iginla combines skill and grit equally. His is an inspiring voice and calming personality. He has a history of elevating his performance in pressurized situations such as the Stanley Cup playoffs and Olympics.
The Flames lack serious Cup aspirations in a Western Conference that includes two powerhouses (Chicago, Anaheim) and the defending champions (Los Angeles). They should start to rebuild, and the Penguins are stocked with a prized commodity — puck-moving defense prospects.
However, Shero should think hard before pulling the trigger on any deal for Iginla. He should think about the past 97 games, including playoffs, Crosby had played before this weekend.
Crosby scored 55 goals and recorded 158 points in those contests, and Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis had flanked him for almost every one.
It is no coincidence that since they became his regular linemates Crosby has reasserted himself as the planet's dominant hockey player. They are the best fits he has had in the NHL because their speed, north-south style and quick-release shots provide perfect complements to Crosby's pace, passing and vision.
To demote Dupuis would prove foolish, even if the Penguins' third line would dramatically improve with him working the right side. Dupuis is a treasured teammate, and there is no benefit to shaking up a dressing room dynamic that is one of the Penguins' strengths this season.
The Penguins' top line is set, and so is two-thirds of their second line.
When center Evgeni Malkin — the reigning MVP — returns from an upper-body injury, he will resume playing with James Neal on his right wing.
Conceivably, Neal could return to his natural left wing position to make room for Iginla. That would seem a silly switch given that, before this weekend, Neal had scored 57 goals in 128 regular-season games since coach Dan Bylsma moved him to the right side.
Only Tampa Bay's Steven Stamkos has scored more goals than Neal over that span.
There is no spot for Iginla on the power play, either.
Crosby leads NHL scorers. Kunitz is in the top three. Neal has paced the NHL in power-play goals since last season. Malkin is a two-time scoring champion. Kris Letang is the No. 1 scoring defenseman.
Guerin was needed four years ago. Iginla is not now.
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