Call me a fatalist, if you will, for feeling that the fate of the Flames is already determined to be on the golfcourse...but I'm in looking forward mode. Never shy to step into controversy, or as some might feel, neck deep in my own bullsh*t, I'm of the opinion the the 2010/2011 Calgary Flames should be an Iginla-less team.Now, it's been long the observation of the frequent contributors to this blog that Iginla seems to be a little Schizo these past two - three years. Some days the Jarome of old (usually beating the heads in of the lesser likes of the league) and with increasing frequency - Jarmoe - his evil alter ego. If you have a hard time remembering Jarmoe, just think of most games against Vancouver, Detroit, or any of the elite teams in the league. At this point, I would even be willing to accept Jarome on some nights and Jarmore on others, but I seem to see the worst of him with growing frequency.
Now, I'm not going to go into rehashing too many of the details of the Jarome/Jarmoe puzzle as it's been well documented, but I would like to address the 'change of times' we are witnessing with the Calgary Flames. In the 2012/2013 season, the league will be facing the last year of Iginla's current contract. Yet, who do we have signed until 2015/16? - Rene Bourque and when I think of Iginla's future it's Bourque instead who interests me the most.
Rene Bourque, is in my mind, the core of the Calgary Flames heading into next season. Around him you can add Kiprusoff, Bouwmeester, and Regehr. Beyond that, Giordano, who is in need of a new contract. It can be easily debated that considering both finances and performance, these players are not even the compliments to the solid core that we once thought we had. Jarome Iginla doesn't make matters any more stable in my mind either.
Consider this. Rene Bourque makes 20 million dollars through 2015/16 at a cap hit of 3.333 million bucks and he's 28 years old. He's a player on the rise, increasing his role and responsibility each of the last two years with the Flames. His average ice-time has gone up from 15:16/game (with Chi) to 16:05/game to 18:14/game. He has set career bests in points and goals in each of the last two years. His zone start is pretty much the same as Iginla's (52.9 vs 51.8) so the advanced stats are a pretty fair comparision:
Bourque: CorsiRel: + 2.8, CorsiRelQoC: 1.287, SAON/60: 24.8, Pts/60: 2.52, TOI/60: 13.72
Iginla: CorsiRel: -4.0, CorsiRelQoC: 0.870, SAON/60: 28.0, Pts/60: 2.25, TOI/60: 16.37
Bourque's advanced stats are significantly superior to Iginla's and his basic counting stats at 24G 30A and 54Pts in 67 games line up quite nicely against Iginla's 32G, 37A, 69Pts in 76. Had Bourque played 76 games this year, he would have ~ 61pts, only 9 less than Iginla all for less than half the cap hit per year going forward. In fact, you could almost buy two MORE Bourque's and a league minimum player next year for one Iginla. The lower number of games played does highlight Bourque tendancy for injury, the one big knock against him...but if you had two of him (or equivalent difference makers), or even three? As well, Jarome may play nearly every game for the Flames in a season, but you'd be kidding yourself to think he's not a liability in a quarter of them, and perhaps not even a difference maker in half.
You can take the comparison further by noting that Bourque almost has double the goals, and the counting numbers of Langkow (if the same # of games are played) for 3/4 the cap hit.
It's true that the Flames have more pressing cap concerns/needs than Iginla. Think Staios, Kotalik, Sarich etc., but Iginla's stardom may provide ways out, with a two-player package being a possibility. It will be tough to move those players on their own merits.
It's my opinion that the value of Iginla is no longer relative to his contract, and the divide is only growing. He's an aging player in decline and although the prospect of having two or three Rene Bourque's seems not only unrealistic, but also unlikely, the man has been locked up at extremely good value for 6 more years, and if it were possible, I wouldn't hesitate to make that exchange. It's time to start building around Bourque, and to turn Iginla's high market value into good returns, and a couple of compliments for Bourque, for a younger, faster more competitive playoff team next year.