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Pittsburgh Penguins' acquisition of Jarome Iginla proves timely

After trading for the veteran winger, they learn Sidney Crosby will be lost indefinitely. Kings, meanwhile, seek a replacement for injured Willie Mitchell.

March 31, 2013|By Helene Elliott, Los Angeles Times
  • Pittsburgh Penguins right winger Jarome Iginla (12) sits on the bench during a game against the New York Islanders.
Pittsburgh Penguins right winger Jarome Iginla (12) sits on the bench during… (Gene J. Puskar / Associated…)

The Pittsburgh Penguins took most of the fun out of speculation leading up to Wednesday's noon Pacific trade deadline when they pulled off major deals last week for veteran wingers Brenden Morrow and Jarome Iginla and defenseman Douglas Murray.

Their acquisition of Iginla was bizarre. Several major media outlets, led by Canada's TSN, reported he had been sent to Boston and it was a done deal. Except it wasn't. Iginla, who waived his no-move clause, decided he preferred Pittsburgh and went there for two prospects and a first-round draft pick. Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli said he thought he had Iginla at noon Wednesday but lost him by nightfall. That's hockey, eh?

The timing of the trade worked to the Penguins' benefit. They learned Sunday they'll be without Sidney Crosby indefinitely while he recovers from the broken jaw he suffered when he was hit in the face by a puck Saturday. He had surgery Sunday and wasn't showing concussion symptoms, a big relief given his history. General Manager Ray Shero told Pittsburgh reporters that Crosby's injury hasn't changed his pre-deadline strategy. "We've made the moves we're going to make, I think," Shero said.

Though the Kings were reported to be among the three finalists competing for Iginla, the interest was far stronger on his side than theirs. They didn't have a first-round pick this year to give up, and Calgary Flames General Manager Jay Feaster was adamant about getting a first-rounder back. The Kings won't trade goaltender Jonathan Bernier for a rental player and Iginla wouldn't have addressed the Kings' need for a beefy defenseman.

Fear not, though. There's still bound to be some excitement in the next few days.

Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi, who has made impact deals each of the last two years by acquiring Dustin Penner and Jeff Carter, is seeking a veteran defender to replace Willie Mitchell (knee). "He's a very difficult player to replace," Lombardi said. "We're fortunate [Jake] Muzzin has stepped up and done a good job."

One logical option is the Buffalo Sabres' Robyn Regehr, who's in the final year of his contract and must waive his no-trade clause. He could provide physicality without becoming a burden like Calgary's Jay Bouwmeester, who carries a $6.680-million cap hit in 2013-14. Lombardi is concerned about the cap shrinking to $64.3 million next season because he must re-sign several players, including restricted free agent Slava Voynov. The price for Regehr is believed to be a draft pick and a prospect. The Kings probably would take Bouwmeester only if Calgary keeps some of his salary, which is permissible under the new labor deal.

Ducks General Manager Bob Murray said Sunday he had no major deals in the works. "This group has played really well," he said. "I'm not going to overpay" for help. The Ducks can't take on salary for next season because that's when the mega-extensions for Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf kick in. Don't look for them to trade Jonas Hiller, who has been mentioned as a solution to several teams' goaltending problems.

Elsewhere, the Roberto Luongo rumors are flying again, the latest being a deal that would send him from Vancouver to Toronto for center Tyler Bozak. But James Reimer has done a creditable job in goal for the Maple Leafs lately and they could decide to stand pat. The rebuilding Flames might want to trade Miikka Kiprusoff, but he has said he intends to retire after the season, reducing his trade value.

San Jose winger Ryane Clowe (no goals in 28 games) is likely to be traded. He has a no-movement clause but is expected to waive it to go somewhere he can play regularly. Boston — still looking for help up front after being spurned by Iginla — and the New York Rangers are believed to be in the running. The Chicago Blackhawks were looking at depth centers, but there's not much available.

The Edmonton Oilers reportedly have made defenseman Ryan Whitney available and Boston might be interested. But Whitney's defensive shortcomings are well-known and any team that takes him would have to give him a specific, limited role.

Tampa Bay Lightning General Manager Steve Yzerman last week quashed rumors that Martin St. Louis was available, so scratch that. But it's unclear what the Washington Capitals will do with Mike Ribeiro after he turned down their offer of a three-year, $14-million extension. He's a capable second-line center but wants four or five years and is 33. The Capitals could trade him and get a decent return, but that would mean conceding this season while they're still within reach of a playoff spot.

Ladies and gentlemen, start your rumors….

Slap shots

The Detroit Red Wings, rebuilding their defense since Nicklas Lidstrom's retirement, might have found a gem when they signed free-agent defenseman Dan DeKeyser to a two-year contract out of Western Michigan. He's 6 feet 3 and mobile, a combination that had plenty of NHL teams pursuing him.

Jon Cooper, who succeeded Guy Boucher as Tampa Bay's coach last week and earned his first NHL victory Friday, has an interesting background. He played four years of lacrosse at Hofstra University in New York and earned a law degree before opening a practice. He gave that up when his coaching success persuaded him he had a better future in hockey. He won championships in the United States Hockey League and in the American Hockey League, where he coached many Lightning prospects.

Belated happy birthday to Mr. Hockey, Gordie Howe, who turned 85 on Sunday. He remains physically strong but is being overtaken by dementia. One of his sons, Mark, a scout for the Red Wings, told the Detroit Free Press that Gordie "is struggling. I think his memory might be down to two minutes, maybe five on a good day."

helene.elliott@latimes.com

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