July 1, 2017 will be a big day for Jarome Iginla.
On that day, The future Hockey Hall of Famer will celebrate his 40th birthday and unrestricted free agency.
As with all impending free agents on bad teams, Iginla’s name is destined to make the rounds in trade rumours after Christmas, unless the Colorado Avalanche (9-10-0, last in the Central Division) can rush out of the basement.
Iginla owns an Olympic gold medal and sits 16th all-time in goals with 613, but the closest he’s come to lifting the Stanley Cup was in 2004, when his Calgary Flames lost to Tampa Bay in Game 7 of the Final.
Now a third-liner nearing the end, does Iginla want another crack at a championship?
“I’d still like to win. I won’t lose hope in that. Hopefully we can be in the playoffs, but I understand how it works at the deadline if we’re not [going well],” Iginla told the Edmonton Journal Thursday. “I’ll cross that bridge when it comes.”
The Edmonton native is in the final year of his three-year contract that pays him $5.33 million per season. He has a reputation for slow starts, but he has just two goals and two assists playing alongside checkers Blake Comeau and John Mitchell. Youth has surpassed him on the depth chart. Still, Iginla quietly scored 22 just last season — the 17th time he’s hit that mark.
He’s not ready to call it a career.
“I’m not there yet. I don’t feel there’s a ton of things I can’t do that I used to. But that’s maybe my mindset. I still feel I can turn this into a positive year for the team and for me personally,” Iginla said. “I still will do that. I’m trying to relax.”
Iginla could’ve been dealt at the 2016 deadline but wanted to stay, and the Avalanche remained in the hunt until the season’s dying weeks. He holds a no-movement clause.
As a third-liner making first-line money, Iginla’s high price tag will be an obstacle to any deal, and Colorado historically isn’t keen on retaining salary. That said, it’s easy to see a playoff team desiring his experience and edge. (Age be damned, Iginla already fought once in pre-season and again in the regular season.)
The most romantic scenario: Peter Chiarelli, for whom Iginla scored 30 goals when both men were with the Bruins, brings him home to Edmonton.