On March 27, the Bruins believed they had acquired Jarome Iginla. A little more than three months later, Iginla finally landed in Boston.
On Friday, the would-be Black-and-Gold right wing – Iginla nixed the original trade, opting for Pittsburgh instead – officially became a Bruin. Iginla signed a one-year, $6 million contract. Iginla will earn $1.8 million in base salary. Iginla could make an additional $4.2 million in incentives.
It is a hefty investment in salary. But the Bruins saved in term to offset their dollars. They were not willing to match the seven-year contracts, for example, that teams gave to Nathan Horton and David Clarkson.
The Bruins welcome a future Hall of Famer in Iginla. The right wing has 530 goals and 576 assists in 1,232 career games. Iginla is third among active goal scorers, trailing only Jaromir Jagr and Teemu Selanne.
In 2013, Iginla scored 14 goals and 19 assists in 44 total games. Iginla put up a 5-6—11 line in 13 games for Pittsburgh. During the playoffs, Iginla scored four goals and eight assists in 15 games. Iginla didn’t record a point in Pittsburgh’s four-and-out exit against the Bruins.
Iginla played left wing in Pittsburgh. Iginla will return to his natural position on the right side in Boston. Iginla should replace Horton as the No. 1 right wing alongside Milan Lucic and David Krejci. Loui Eriksson, acquired on Thursday as part of the Tyler Seguin blockbuster, projects to be the No. 2 right wing next to Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron.
Earlier on Friday, Horton officially became an ex-Bruin. Horton signed a seven-year, $37.1 million contract with Columbus.
Horton will not be available at the start of 2013-14. Horton will undergo surgery on his dislocated left shoulder. The procedure will sideline Horton for 4-6 months.
Ironically, Horton suffered the injury during a fight with Iginla on April 20. That game marked Iginla’s first showdown against the Bruins after he turned down the trade.
According to general manager Peter Chiarelli, the Bruins and Flames had agreed upon an Iginla swap. The Bruins would send Matt Bartkowski, Alexander Khokhlachev, and their 2013 first-round pick to the Flames for the captain. The Bruins scratched Bartkowski for their home game against Montreal. Providence held Khokhlachev out of uniform.
But early the next morning, Iginla had become a Penguin. Iginla was joining the team with the best odds of winning the Stanley Cup, a prize that had eluded the power forward in Calgary.
Iginla was wrong. During the Eastern Conference Final, the Bruins turned Iginla into an afterthought. Iginla landed only five shots on Tuukka Rask. Adam McQuaid’s winner in Game 4 ticked off Iginla’s stick. Rask gloved Pittsburgh’s last shot in the final seconds of Game 4. Naturally, the puck had come off Iginla’s blade.
The 36-year-old Iginla is not as fast as Horton. But Iginla’s release and heavy shot are comparable to Horton’s snapper. Iginla should be a close approximation for Horton’s game on the first line. Iginla’s hard-nosed style should allow the line to continue forechecking and cycling down low in the offensive zone.
Iginla will also be a strong presence in the dressing room. The Bruins did not think less of Iginla after he landed in Pittsburgh. Iginla is well-liked around the league.
The Bruins’ first preference was to re-sign Horton. But Horton told the Bruins he did not want to return to Boston.
The Bruins would most likely not have given Horton the term he received from the Blue Jackets. It’s possible Horton won’t pull on his Blue Jackets jersey – the right wing will wear No. 8 in Columbus – until next January. The 28-year-old had two of his three previous seasons halted because of concussions.
During a press conference in Columbus after signing his contract, Horton reiterated that he wanted to play in a smaller market. Horton and wife Tammy have two young sons. Horton visited Columbus during the interview period. One of their stops during the tour was the Columbus Zoo, according to general manager Jarmo Kekalainen.
“I’m thankful for my opportunity in Boston, very thankful,’’ said Horton. “I met a lot of great people. I had great teammates. I had a great time there. I just think from being in a city, it’s a great opportunity for me and my family to be in a house and be a little more quiet. That’s what I was looking for.’’
After Horton informed the Bruins he would not be returning last Saturday, the team targeted Daniel Alfredsson as the No. 1 right wing. Chiarelli, former Ottawa’s assistant GM, pursued Alfredsson aggressively following Tuesday’s opening of the interview period.
On Thursday night, Alfredsson informed the Senators that he would not be returning in 2013-14. On Friday, Alfredsson brushed aside Boston’s advances to sign a one-year, $5.5 million contract with Detroit. Alfredsson will be joining fellow Swedes Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen, Niklas Kronwall, Jonathan Ericsson, and Gustav Nyquist. Alfredsson played with Zetterberg, Franzen, and Kronwall for Team Sweden in the 2010 Olympics.
The Bruins have Ottawa connections in Chiarelli, Zdeno Chara, and Chris Kelly. Eriksson was Alfredsson’s Olympic teammate.
During a conference call, Alfredsson said he preferred Detroit’s puck-possession approach. The Bruins play a more grinding style. Coach Claude Julien requires his forwards to backcheck aggressively and steer puck carriers toward defensemen. Once the Bruins gain possession, they often dump the puck into the offensive zone and chase it down.
“I really like the way Detroit plays hockey,’’ Alfredsson said. “It’s a puck-possession game, push-the-pace game. I just think with the personnel they have throughout the lineup, I could come in and be a help in different areas and be a part of something really good. I know quite a few guys from before. I know the personalities. I know how they play. The culture of Detroit really appealed to me.’’
Iginla, Eriksson, and Shawn Thornton project to be three of the team’s four right wings. Jordan Caron, Carl Soderberg, Jared Knight, and Craig Cunningham are internal candidates to be the No. 3 right wing.