Philadelphia, PA – It's a safe bet the Pittsburgh Penguins' page on capgeek.com is getting some serious web traffic on Thursday.
The Internet's top source for all things related to the NHL's salary cap shows that even after pulling off recent trades for Jarome Iginla, Brenden Morrow and Douglas Murray, the Penguins somehow have more than $4 million in cap space remaining.
Can that be possible?
You can almost picture fans of teams other than Pittsburgh, particularly devotees of the Boston Bruins, hitting refresh on their web browsers again and again, waiting for capgeek to correct itself. After all, it seems impossible the Penguins could amass this much talent while playing in a league with a hard salary cap like the one used the NHL.
Except capgeek.com isn't wrong and the Penguins managing to put together a roster chock full of stars like Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, James Neal, Kris Letang, and now Iginla, is all too real.
Even though the NHL's salary cap was set at $60 million for this lockout- shortened season, teams can actually spend up to $70.2 million, a figure that was specially pro-rated for the truncated season. So, even with Iginla in tow, Pittsburgh's projected cap payroll of $66,037,769 falls comfortably underneath the 2012-13 cap ceiling.
However, the real key to Pittsburgh pulling off two of its recent trades -- the ones for Iginla and Morrow -- was convincing both players they had a better chance to win this year's Stanley Cup with the Penguins rather than the Bruins.
Boston went hard after both Iginla and Morrow and reportedly offered similar deals to what eventually brought the veteran forwards to Steel City. But in the end, both players had no-trade clauses in their contracts and they opted to waive them for the Penguins, and not the Bruins.
While losing out on Morrow probably wasn't a whole lot of fun for Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli, placing second to the Pens in the Iginla sweepstakes is what really stings.
The rumor mill seemed to be churning in Boston's favor on Wednesday night, when the Bruins were being reported as the favorite to land the longtime face of the Calgary Flames. As the night wore on, it seemed the Iginla-to-Boston deal was getting closer to reality, but then the news unexpectedly broke in favor of the Penguins.
While meeting with the media on Thursday, Chiarelli couldn't hide his displeasure at how things went down.
"We were told at noon yesterday that we'd won the Jarome Iginla sweepstakes," Chiarelli revealed. "We believed that we'd had a deal"
Chiarelli also said he asked Calgary permission to speak to Iginla on Wednesday, but was denied access to the superstar. It's doubtful Boston's GM could have convinced Iginla to choose Boston over Pittsburgh anyway, but he has to be upset he wasn't at least allowed a chance to try.
While the Flames lost arguably their greatest player in club history, they at least gained Pittsburgh's 2013 first-round pick and a pair of solid college prospects for the franchise's all-time leading scorer.
The Bruins, on the other hand, are left to find offensive help elsewhere as next Wednesday's trade deadline draws near. The harsh reality is that Iginla was No. 1 by a landslide on the list of forwards expected to be available ahead of this season's deadline. At this point, the best bet for Chiarelli and Boston may be Jaromir Jagr, who has shown he has plenty left in the tank this season in Dallas, but is also 41 years old compared to the 35-year-old Iginla.
Boston is one of the NHL's best defensive teams, but still struggles mightily at times in the scoring department. Iginla, Calgary's all-time leader with 525 goals, was the best option to try and boost the B's sagging offense, and more specifically, the team's anemic power play.
On the other hand, Pittsburgh entered this season as one of the deadliest offensive teams in the league and the recent additions of Iginla and Morrow gives the Pens and embarrassment of riches up front.
In fact, the Pens are so loaded with talent there are plenty of people who believe the current roster in Pittsburgh borders on overkill and that head coach Dan Bylsma's task of winning a second Stanley Cup in five seasons just became more difficult and not easier.
While Chiarelli is steamed about missing out on Iginla, Boston's GM knows it takes more than splashy trades around the deadline to win it all. He knows Iginla could've helped the B's, but also realizes there is no such thing as acquiring enough talent to guarantee your team a Stanley Cup.
So, when asked Thursday about Pittsburgh's chance to win it all in light of the club's recent moves, the architect of Boston's 2011 championship team delivered a delightfully snarky response.
"Well, they're a lock now. Right?"
Well played, Mr. Chiarelli, well played.