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Numbers Game: Bruins bring in Iginla

Scott Cullen
7/9/2013 1:52:56 PM
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The Boston Bruins, spurned at the trade deadline, doubled back and found a bargain in a free agent veteran scoring winger.

Numbers Game examines the Bruins' addition of Jarome Iginla.

The Bruins Get: RW Jarome Iginla.

Iginla, 36, is coming off a season in which his goal (0.32 gpg) and point-scoring (0.75 ppg) rates were his lowest since 1997-1998 and 1998-199, respectively, but his decline in production wasn't necessarily so dramatic, as he still generated 3.05 shots per game, which ranked 34th in the league. His shooting percentage, 10.4%, just happened to be his lowest since 1997-1998.

By no means should this be seen as an attempt to diminish the effects of age on Iginla's game. He's not a 40 or 50-goal-scorer any more, but there is ample reason to believe that he can still be a productive scoring winger in the right situation.

After arriving in Pittsburgh, despite frequently playing out of position on left wing, Iginla tallied nine goals and 23 points in 28 games (combined regular season and playoffs), while playing far less (17:40 ATOI in regular season, 15:45 ATOI in playoffs) than he did in Calgary, where he had averaged more than 20 minutes per game for 10 straight seasons prior to 2013..

Iginla's possession numbers haven't been strong in recent seasons, but that would seem to be more an indication that he lacked teammates, most notably a bona fide number one centre, in Calgary to drive puck possession. At this stage of his career, Iginla isn't going to be the one dictating the pace of the game, but he can still be a productive scorer if paired with a capable playmaking centre.

Enter his new home in Boston, which was probably a better fit for him at the trade deadline too, because the Bruins had playing time for him on right wing with a scoring line (that they subsequently ended up giving to Jaromir Jagr). Now, Iginla seems likely to end up replacing Nathan Horton at right wing with David Krejci and Milan Lucic and as much as Iginla's production is down, he's not done yet and will effectively be taking over for a winger that scored 13 goals and 22 points in 43 games last season, a rate of production Iginla should almost surely exceed.

Both Horton and Iginla scored 21 even-strength points last season but, given Iginla's track record on the power play (371 of 1106 career points have come with the man advantage), he could help the Bruins' power play, which converted 14.8% last season, good for 26th in the league.

Pittsburgh, with salary cap concerns of their own, didn't have room for Iginla and will likely have Chris Kunitz, Pascal Dupuis, James Neal and, likely, Jussi Jokinen available to play as scoring wingers, so they can manage without Iginla.

With lower demand for his services and a lot of money accumulated over a career as one of the game's top scoring wingers -- 530 career goals ranks behind only Jagr and Teemu Selanne among active players -- Iginla could pick a spot that is a good fit and that's the case with the Bruins, a team that is built to win now with a need for a winger to pull the trigger alongside a playmaking centre of Krejci's calibre.

What really makes this deal work for the Bruins, however, is the term. Signed for one year, Iginla has a base salary of $1.8-million, with $4.2-million more in bonuses, so whatever he achieves of those bonuses will count against the 2014-2015 cap.

If Iginla's decline is more precipitous in Boston, the Bruins aren't on the hook long-term. If he performs at a high level and the Bruins are successful, well, the Bruins would probably like to have the problem of trying to fit a future contract into their salary structure because the first year worked out so well.

Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.




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