Iginla might still play for Canada at the Winter Olympics

Nov 29 2017, 7:25 pm

Jarome Iginla isn’t done yet.

Still without an NHL team, the future Hall of Famer hasn’t played a competitive game since closing the season out with the LA Kings last April.

It was a disappointing season for Iginla, who turned 40 this summer.

He had the lowest point total, 27, of his NHL career with most of his struggles coming with the Colorado Avalanche, who had a dreadful season. Iginla seemed to find his groove after being traded to Los Angeles though, picking up nine points (including six goals) in 19 games.

But with the NHL now past the quarter-poll, it would seem unlikely that the Calgary Flames legend will get another contract.

In any other season that would mean imminent retirement, but perhaps not this year.

With the NHL opting out of the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, Team Canada reportedly still has interest in Iginla.

Here’s a tidbit from Elliotte Friedman’s 31 Thoughts article this week:

The Canadian Olympic Team is going to try again with Jarome Iginla. The future Hall of Famer is set to resume skating after getting some work done on his hip. If he wants to play in the Spengler Cup, there will be a spot for him.

Interesting to note that Iginla was suffering from some kind of hip ailment. That could explain his drop off in production, as he scored 22 goals and 47 points in 2015-16.

Whatever the case, Iginla is running out of time to prove himself to Team Canada management. The team has just two tune-up tournaments remaining, with the last coming at the Spengler Cup, which kicks off in Switzerland on Boxing Day.

If Iginla does join Canada, despite not having a club team, it wouldn’t be unprecedented. Former Montreal Canadiens captain Brian Gionta is in the same boat, and is expected to be on Team USA’s roster in February.

Iginla, who has 1,300-career NHL points and won gold for Canada at the 2002 and 2010 Olympics, would be the unquestioned leader of the team and a shoe-in to wear the captain’s C.

And who knows, perhaps a strong showing in PyeongChang could earn himself one last NHL contract. The gold medal game is set for February 25, just one day before the NHL trade deadline – the last day for him to return to the league if he wants to be eligible for the playoffs this season.

Other players in the running

Canada has already completed three tune-up tournaments in Europe, where they’re evaluating Olympic hopefuls.

That includes former Canucks/Leafs/Flames/Ducks winger Mason Raymond, who has found chemistry with Andrew Ebbett. Those two players, who play together with Bern SC in Switzerland, are a good bet to play on Canada’s first line in February¬†Steven Ellis, who covers international hockey regularly, tells Daily Hive.

Ebbett is currently tied for the scoring lead in the Swiss League, while Raymond is scoring at better than a point-per-game pace.

Former Leafs goaltender Ben Scrivens, who has a .917 save percentage with Ufa in the KHL, is the likely bet to be the team’s starting goaltender.

Former Kings/Canucks/Flames forward Linden Vey should make the team too according to Ellis. Vey was a favourite of Team Canada head coach Willie Desjardins during their time together in Vancouver and Medicine Hat, and has 45 points in 36 games so far this season.

Other players Ellis likes are forwards Gilbert Brule (23 points in 27 KHL games), Wojtek Wolski (26 points in 30 KHL games), as well as defenceman Chris Lee, who was the only non-NHL player to make the World Championship team last spring.

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