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Iginla Joins Boston

by Caryn Switaj / Boston Bruins

BOSTON, MA - Jarome Iginla is a Boston Bruin.

The words sound familiar to you, given the well-chronicled brief saga of the former Calgary Flames captain choosing to go to Pittsburgh in a trade on March 28, over the spoked-B. And the saga that spilled into the Eastern Conference Final, when the Bruins swept the Penguins.

But, this time, it's true. When free agency opened on Friday, by 8:30 p.m., the veteran right winger had become a member of the Bruins, signing a one-year contract.

I caught up with B's General Manager Peter Chiarelli to get a few brief thoughts just moments after the deal.

"We’ve come to terms on a one-year deal with Jarome Iginla. There’s been much reported about him from before, but we tried to get him before, and now we have him," said the GM, acknowledging the aforementioned "saga."

"He’s a world class player, a world class release, work ethic. He’s had a lot of success over the years. He’s a strong, right-shooting right wing and he brings to our leadership, and he’s going to be a motivated player. It just happened a couple of minutes ago, but we’re all excited about it."

Leading up to the trade deadline, when the B's had originally wanted to acquire Iginla, he could have ended up serving a Jaromir-Jagr like role, providing stability to the lineup as the Bruins contended for the Stanley Cup. Now, Iginla has been pinpointed as a key component of the Bruins' rebuilt right side.

With top line mainstay Nathan Horton opting to to not re-sign with Boston, as he had informed Chiarelli last week, there was a hole to fill (Horton ended up signing a seven-year deal as an unrestricted free agent with Columbus). The Bruins also were not likely to have unrestricted free agent Jagr return.

Then, on July 4, the Bruins made a blockbuster trade with Dallas, sending right shots Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley to the Stars, and acquiring Loui Eriksson, along with three high-end prospects, including two wingers, Matt Fraser and Reilly Smith, who will challenge for winger spots next season with Boston.

When speaking not longer after the seven-player trade with Dallas, Chiarelli had said Eriksson, a two-way force of consistency for the Stars, was the first main piece in reconstructing the right. Now, with Friday's free agent signing, Iginla rounds out the rebuild.

The addition of Iginla won't come with lack of skepticism from fans, though, given the events of March, when the Bruins believed they had a deal and "won the sweepstakes" with the veteran right winger.

"It's tough. I mean, we're talking about a really good player," Chiarelli had said back in March, after Iginla had opted to go to Pittsburgh.

"It's like on July 1 [when free agency opens], when you're trying to sign a player and you're in the last one or two, three. I think you try to convince the player - while we couldn't talk to the player in this instance - and you don't get him, there's a high then a real low," the GM had said, in quite a bit of foreshadowing for what was to come a few months later, on July 5.

However, this time, Iginla chose Boston.

And there won't be bad blood from the Bruins' end when he pulls on the Black & Gold come September.

"Well, yeah, If I were Jarome at that time and we were losing six games in a row or whatever, and Pittsburgh was winning fifteen, I probably would have made that decision," Chiarelli said minutes after the Iginla deal.

At the time, of course, when he chose Pittsburgh, the Bruins were going through one of the rougher stretches of the season, losing four of their past eight games that began with a March 12 loss - to the Pens, no less. Pittsburgh, meanwhile, had not lost a game in the month of March, beating the B's twice in that span. All water under the bridge now, right?

"But he’s a guy that we wanted before and now we’ve got him," added Chiarelli. "We’re happy. He’s going to solidify our right side with Loui Eriksson and some young guys in the third line and we’re happy to get him."

With Iginla, Eriksson and Shawn Thornton slotted for their main roles on the right side, we can expect to see more than a few young wingers in the Bruins' system challenging for the third line role, including Jared Knight, Jordan Caron, and newcomers Fraser and Smith, among others.

Iginla's Cap Hit

Iginla’s base salary for the one-year deal is worth $1,800,000 and carries incentives of $4,200,000, for an annual cap figure of $6,000,000. The Bruins now have about $5.6 million in cap space for 2013-14 (without Marc Savard placed on long-term injured reserve). Besides rebuilding the right side, another priority in free agency for the B's is extending goaltender Tuukka Rask, which Chiarelli has said he's confident is coming "in short order."

The Iginla Track Record

We'll hear Iginla's reaction to the deal on Saturday, when he speaks with media via a conference call around noon, but here's a run-down (as was outlined in the B's official press release, also found on of the veteran's 16-season NHL career, that saw him as the heart and soul of the Flames, before finishing out this past season with Pittsburgh.

Iginla entered the 2012-13 campaign having scored 30+ goals in 11 consecutive seasons and had led the Calgary Flames in scoring for the last 11 seasons, which is an NHL record for leading the same franchise in scoring, before joining the Pittsburgh Penguins. He is a two-time Maurice “Rocket” Richard winner, given to the NHL's leading goal scorer, and captured the Art Ross Trophy in 2001-02 (Most Valuable). He has twice scored 50 goals in a season, most recently in 2007-08 when he recorded 98 points on 50 goals and 48 assists. He has played in all 82 games during the regular season in each of the last five full NHL seasons.

The 36-year-old has played in 1,232 career games – 1,219 with Calgary and 13 with Pittsburgh – and has registered 530 goals, 576 assists (1,106 points) with 840 penalty minutes in his 16 regular seasons in the NHL.  His 530 goals rank 32nd all time (third among active players) and his 1,106 points rank 57th (fifth among active players).

In the postseason, the NHL veteran has skated in 69 playoff games with 32 goals and 29 assists for 61 points. He played in 15 postseason games with the  Penguins this season and tallied four goals and eight assists.

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