The moment the season ended, speculation began.
Even Iginla himself wasn't sure if he'd remain a Flame past the summer, "I don't know what next year holds. I can't say. They're going to look at everything."
Of course, the immediate reaction was that Iginla was as good as gone- for better or worse. And then the pendulum swung back the moment Brent Sutter and the Flames decided parting ways was the right direction.
I can't begin to count the number of times I've read a variation on , "The Calgary Flames had to pick between Sutter and Iginla, and they chose the former." Generally those variations are far less intelligent, but the point remains that due to Sutter's rebuilding comments, the Flames had an "either-or" and picked the "or".
This isn't exactly accurate. While it's true that Brent Sutter wanted to see a rebuild, it seems incredibly unlikely he'd willingly chose to not coach just because that wasn't the direction management wanted to go. If management truly was willing to keep Sutter around, we'd likely still see the man around.
No, while the Sutter and Iginla issues are certainly tangentially related, they are hardly so intertwined.
It's hard to see how Calgary management can look at the Calgary team as it is currently constructed and think, "This will work next year!" No reasonable thought will lead to that conclusion- and even if the Flames move Kiprusoff and use the additional opening cap space from expiring contracts in a smart manner, the Flames are almost completely unable to improve with out moving Jarome Iginla.
The simple reason is a financial concept known as "Added value". Wikipedia lists Added Value as "Added Value = Price that the product/service is sold at - cost of producing the product".
In hockey terms, this comes out to "Will the return for a given player be greater than or equal to in ability relative to cap hit?" Depth players like Glencross, Butler, Smith, and Babchuk and aging skill players like Tanguay and Cammalleri would not return value greater than they provide. It's difficult to trade players like that and get a good return.
Jarome Iginla, on the other hand, would provide excellent added value in a trade. High end skill is consistently valued exponentially more than average and above average skill, and even as a shade of his former skill, he's still a high end player relative to depth players. So how does that add value? Simply put, the Flames have to take a risk on undeveloped talent, which is worth much less but has the potential for growth (while Iginla's value will only diminsh at this point).
Feaster has shown a decent understanding of added value as a GM for the Flames- but will he recognize that Iginla is worth more to the Flames as a trade piece than as a player? Given comments made by management and the (perceived) willingness to make changes this off-season, it seems as though he already has.
It might be a terrifying decision to management and ownership, but if you have the chance to grow the club, you need to take that chance- particularly when there are few other avenues of improving the team's fortunes in the near future. (Nathan MacKinnon anyone?)