It’s hard to overstate the shock and disappointment felt by Bruins fans after they woke up on Thursday morning to find out that Calgary right winger (and future NHL Hall of Famer) Jarome Iginla had, in fact, chosen the Pittsburgh Penguins over Boston. Late Wednesday night, it seemed like a done deal (with countless respected NHL media saying as much) that the B’s would ship prospect Alexander Khokhlachev (a high scoring center currently in the OHL), defenseman Matt Bartkowski and a conditional first-round draft pick to the Flames for Iginla.
A captain, Iginla played his whole career in Calgary and scored 525 career goals (third most among active players), posting 30-plus goals in each of his last 11 seasons. Out of nowhere, the Penguins swooped in and flipped two collegiate prospects of their own and a first-round pick for Iginla, giving the best team in the Eastern Conference even more depth and downright scary scoring ability. Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli was on the verge of what could have been the best move of his career but now he’s left to pick up the pieces with less than a week to go until the 2013 NHL trade deadline (April 3). Naturally, fans will be very upset for a while but it’s Chiarelli’s job to push forward and address the needs of his team while trying to forget Wednesday night’s failure that was ultimately Iginla’s sole decision since he had a no-trade clause.
The B’s remain one of the best teams in the East despite Pittsburgh bulking up, but they still need someone that plays on the wing that can score consistently on either of the top two lines. Also, another defenseman or two would help since they are missing both Adam McQuaid and Johnny Boychuk. Fringe NHL players like Aaron Johnson, Matt Bartkowski and Torey Krug are getting regular minutes for the time being.
Some names that could still be available? Tampa Bay’s Martin St. Louis is a very solid veteran right wing on a team that’s going nowhere and San Jose’s Ryane Clowe seems like a typical Bruin with his physical style of play. Finally, Edmonton’s Ryan Whitney (who went to BU) is a mobile defenseman that could help the Bruins right away. The Bruins have reportedly been looking at all three players for weeks.
Follow Metro Boston Bruins beat writer Richard Slate on Twitter @RichSlate