PITTSBURGH — Ray Shero’s wheeling and dealing is finished. The Pittsburgh Penguins general manager completed his mission with a minor deal just before Wednesday’s NHL trading deadline when he picked up left winger Jussi Jokinen from the Carolina Panthers.
Shero’s most important work was when he acquired three players — left winger Brenden Morrow, defenseman Douglas Murray and right winger Jarome Iginla — within a furious five-day span in late March.
The aforementioned hat trick of veterans is expected to make valuable contributions for the Penguins in the playoffs, which begin May 1.
Anything short of hoisting a fourth Stanley Cup for this cast of all-stars will be viewed as a bust, provided captain Sidney Crosby’s jaw mends quickly and he avoids another injury or a concussion.
Iginla, more affectionately known as Iggy, was a tremendous acquisition for the Penguins, who have been the league’s hottest team, despite having their 15-game winning streak halted Tuesday.
Granted, Iggy’s offensive numbers are not what they once were, but the six-time all-star forward still has plenty of firepower. Iginla is the NHL’s fifth active-leading scorer with more than 500 career goals and 1,000 points and a certain Hall of Famer.
Iginla, who cost the Penguins two college prospects and a first-round pick in 2013, spent the past 16 years trying to win a Cup in Calgary. The Alberta native led the Flames to the finals in 2004, but they lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning in seven games.
Even though Iggy will become an unrestricted free agent July 1 when his contract expires, he was so desperate to compete for a Stanley Cup contender, he waived his no-trade clause and surrendered his captaincy in order to join the Penguins.
“I’d love to get my first crack at one Cup,” Iginla said shortly after the trade was announced March 28. “Pittsburgh has the two best players in the world. It’s really hard as a player to pass up the opportunity to play on a team with Sid and (Evgeni) Malkin.”
In Iginla’s first game with the Penguins eight days ago, Crosby suffered a broken jaw after being hit in the mouth with a deflected puck. He had surgery a week ago today and is out indefinitely.
Meanwhile, Iginla has been playing on a line with 2012 NHL MVP Malkin and All-Star James Neal. Iggy scored his first goal with the Penguins in last Wednesday’s 4-1 home loss to the Buffalo Sabres, their first setback in more than a month.
Iggy won a gold medal with former Penguins’ superstar and current co-owner Mario Lemieux while playing for Canada at the 2002 Olympic Games and another while playing on the same line with Crosby in 2010. Iginla also set up Crosby’s gold-medal winning goal in Vancouver, where Morrow and Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury also were teammates.
“My expectation is that (Jarome) will be a really good fit in terms of the team and the guys that we have,” Shero said.
Iginila, Malkin and Crosby have all won scoring titles in their decorated careers.
“He’s (an) unbelievable player, and I know he’s a good guy,” Malkin said of Iginla. “He has a lot of experience, and of course he (can) help the team win.”
The Calgary Herald wrote an almost-unheard-of syrupy editorial on Iginla in its April 1 edition.
In addition to mentioning all of Iggy’s accomplishments on the ice, it also addressed his contributions off of it.
“His name has never carried the faintest whiff of scandal; he is the kind of athlete whose exemplary character on and off the ice makes him the perfect role model for his youngest fans,” it pointed out. “Calgary’s loss is truly Pittsburgh’s gain.”
The editorial concluded that the time had come for both the Flames and Iginla to move on.
“If anyone has truly earned a shot at the Stanley Cup, it’s Jarome Iginla. Good luck in Pittsburgh, Iggy. We’ll be cheering for you all the way.”
Shero’s first March move was aimed at beefing up the Penguins’ defense, which has been hampered by injuries - 2012 All-Star Kris Letang has had a few stints on injured reserve and Paul Martin is sidelined after having surgery recently to repair a broken bone in his hand.
Morrow, 34, also waived a no-trade clause in his contract with the Dallas Stars to come to Pittsburgh.
A day after dealing for Morrow, also a former captain, Shero picked up Murray, a rugged defenseman and better-than-average penalty killer, from the San Jose Sharks. Murray and Morrow will become unrestricted free agents July 1, just like Iginla.
Shero joked that his kids didn’t even believe when he told them he had dealt for Iggy, who many outlets reported was headed to the Boston Bruins.
“The first people I called was my kids to tell them we got Jarome Iginla, and they said, ‘No you didn’t. He’s going somewhere else. We saw it on TV,’ ” Shero recalled. “I’m, like, ‘Well, I think we’re getting him.’
“If there’s a chance to get Jarome Iginla … we’re going to try and get Jarome Iginla. There’s only one Jarome Iginla.”
Iggy hopes to collect a Cup-full of memories in Pittsburgh.
Ron Musselman is a freelance writer. Follow him on Twitter@ronmusselman8.