By Steve Silverman-
(CBS) The approaching NHL trade deadline produces some strange results.
Go to bed one night and Jarome Iginla is saying goodbye to Calgary and hello to Boston. Wake up the next morning and Iginla is not going to Boston. He’s going to Pittsburgh.
The Penguins, if you haven’t noticed, have been stockpiling talent over the last few days, adding Brenden Morrow from Dallas, Douglas Murray from San Jose, and now the big prize in Iginla.
You might think the Penguins were just another team in the middle of the pack that was unsatisfied with their roster. This is a team that has won 12 games in a row and is playing in the second half of the season the way the Blackhawks played in the first half.
They are the first-place team in the Eastern Conference and would appear to be the favorites to get back to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since they won the legendary chalice since 2009. And they would also appear to be a worthy opponent for the Blackhawks for the league’s title.
Except there’s one problem: The Penguins may be going for a championship, but they were in first place before any of these trades were made.
They certainly don’t need a superstar scorer – which Iginla may no longer be – when they have Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, James Neal and Chris Kunitz.
They may have added a piece that they didn’t need by bringing in Iginla.
Stan Bowman seemed to understand this. While the Blackhawks were one of the four teams that the face of the Calgary Flames said he would be willing to play for – the Los Angeles Kings were the fourth — the Blackhawks were not close to being in the discussion.
They didn’t need to consider adding Iginla. It wouldn’t have been the right move for the team.
When a team does not lose a game in regulation through the first half of the season, it is clear that it has the right makeup for winning a championship. You don’t have to add a superstar to become a Stanley Cup-worthy team.
The Blackhawks could use a second- or third-line center and an extra defenseman.
You need depth to win the Stanley Cup.
The last two Stanley Cup winners traded for complementary types who played key roles during their championship runs.
The Bruins won the Stanley Cup in 2011 and they added role players Rich Peverley and Chris Kelly prior to the trade deadline. Neither were headline players who could carry the team, but both scored key goals during Boston’s Stanley Cup run.
The Los Angeles Kings brought in Jeff Carter from the Columbus Blue Jackets. Carter had been biding his time in Columbus, but he became a vital component who unlocked the Kings’ long-dormant offense.
The Blackhawks have plenty of front-line talent and they don’t need another superstar. When you are led by Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp (yes, he will be back), you don’t need another dominant force in the lockerroom.
However, a move for Mike Ribeiro, the Washington Capitals’ clever center (35 points in 33 games), would complement the existing cast of characters. Solid defenseman Robyn Regehr of the Buffalo Sabres would ease the burden on the blueliners.
Ribeiro and Regehr will be free agents at the end of the season and both would be rentals. No long-term commitments needed. Just complementary help to smooth the road to the Stanley Cup.
That’s the way for the Blackhawks to go. There’s no need to surgically alter the team chemistry by adding a superstar, even one with Iginla’s outstanding resume. They’re not falling in that trap.
The Penguins, meanwhile, are winning the NHL’s version of Let’s Make A Deal. But it may not help them when the Stanley Cup is awarded in June.
Steve Silverman is an award-winning writer, covering sports since 1980. Silverman was with Pro Football Weekly for 10 years and his byline has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Playboy, NFL.com and The Sporting News. He is the author of four books, including Who’s Better, Who’s Best in Football — The Top 60 Players of All-Time. Follow him on Twitter (@profootballboy) and read more of his CBS Chicago columns here.