Iginla trade shows why teams can't wait

Updated: March 28, 2013, 10:52 AM ET
By Craig Custance

It's not the huge return Flames fans envisioned for the day when their captain and leader Jarome Iginla was ultimately traded. Calgary received two college players from the Penguins in Kenneth Agostino and Ben Hanowski, along with a 2013 first-round pick, in exchange for one of the greatest players in Calgary's franchise history.

In making the Iginla deal, the Penguins were able to retain their more prized prospects like Simon Despres, Beau Bennett, Olli Maatta and Derrick Pouliot. And with the team Ray Shero has assembled in Pittsburgh, that first-round pick is looking more and more like a No. 29 or 30.

When the Bruins were rumored to be in the mix for Iginla, names like Matthew Bartkowski and Alexander Khokhlachev were mentioned. One NHL scouting director broke down their NHL potential with the faintest of praise last night.

"Mid-level, depth guys only," he wrote in a text.

Not the overwhelming franchise-transforming deal fans might have been hoping for. Iginla for Joe Nieuwendyk this isn't.

But it can't be pinned on Jay Feaster. For one thing, the ownership in Calgary waited much too long to finally make this tough decision, when Iginla's value was at its lowest, days before the trade deadline entering the final year of his contract. Feaster treated the situation with the respect owed a future Hall of Famer who controlled his destination with a no-move clause.

Ultimately, according to Feaster, it was Iginla who picked the Penguins package.

"We had multiple teams we were dealing with, had multiple offers. At the end of the day, it's a process of working with the player as well," Feaster said. "In this instance, the deal we consummated, [Pittsburgh] is where the player was prepared to waive for."

This isn't the deal to judge Feaster on, as the Flames finally begin sending out their aging talent for a much-need infusion of youth. It's the ones to come, ones in which he'll have more control -- control he needs to wield.

If the Iginla trade has reinforced anything, it's the notion that the best move is to make the toughest trades a year too early rather than a year too late. The easy move is to wait until the year of a player is a UFA and then cut bait at the deadline.

The better move is to do it a year ahead of time. And that lesson should trigger at least one more big trade from the Flames before April 3.