Over eight years ago, in late March of 2013, Calgary Flames fans were heartbroken to see not only their best leader, but one of the best leaders in NHL history in Jarome Iginla get traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins. The move didn’t come as much of a shock, as his contract was set to expire at the end of the 2012-13 season, and the team was in the midst of a rebuild. Still, it was very hard to say goodbye to the man who wore the ‘C’ for nine seasons and was still an incredible player.
Coming the other way in the trade were Kenny Agostino, Ben Hanowski, and a first-round pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, which they used to select Morgan Klimchuk years later. While it was clear that winning a trade involving Iginla would be extremely tough, this return, even at the time, seemed somewhat underwhelming. Still, both Agostino and Hanowski appeared to have some potential, and the first-round pick certainly added some value.
Chasing a Cup
Having already won two Rocket Richards, an Art Ross, and a Lester B. Pearson Trophy (now known as the Ted Lindsay Award), Iginla was well established as one of the game’s premier players. The only thing he had left to accomplish was winning a Stanley Cup. His first chance came that very same season, as he and his Penguins teammates advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals, only to be swept by the Boston Bruins.
That summer, Iginla chose to sign a one-year deal with those very same Bruins. They once again had a very good regular season and were considered Cup contenders, especially after knocking off the Detroit Red Wings in just five games in the opening round. Unfortunately for Iginla and co, they were eliminated in the second round in a series versus the Montreal Canadiens that went the distance.
That run turned out to be Iginla’s last chance at a Stanley Cup, as he chose to sign a three-year deal with the Colorado Avalanche that next summer. Though they appeared to be a team on the rise, they ended up struggling immensely during his parts of three seasons there, and it was evident that Iginla himself had lost a step.
In his final season with the Avs, he was traded to the L.A. Kings at the deadline in hopes of getting one more shot at a Cup. Instead, the Kings ended up missing the playoffs completely, and that ended up signaling not only the end of Iginla’s season but his career.
Though it remains disappointing he was never able to hoist the Stanley Cup like he very much deserved, it doesn’t take away from what was a brilliant career. After his time with the Flames, he played in a combined 335 games, scoring 100 goals and 205 points. When paired with his Flames totals, he finished with a ridiculous 625 goals and 1300 points in 1554 games. He was elected into the Hall of Fame in 2020, and deservedly so.
Now to the players who the Flames received. The biggest piece at the time coming the Flames way was Agostino, who was in the midst of his third season with Yale University at the time of the deal. By the time his junior season had ended with Yale, he finished tied for first in team scoring with 41 points in 37 games. He followed that up with a somewhat disappointing senior season, registering 32 points in 33 contests.
After his senior season was up, Agostino played in eight games with the Flames to finish out the remainder of the year, recording a goal and an assist. He then spent the majority of the next two seasons in the AHL, getting called up for only two more games with the Flames in 2015-16. Flames management decided at the end of that season they had seen enough and chose not to offer him a qualifying offer, making him a free agent.
Since his time with the Flames, Agostino has been a ‘tweener’ player, going up and down on many occasions between the NHL and AHL. While his numbers at the AHL level are impressive year after year, he has been unable to find his scoring touch at the NHL level. This past season saw him appear in 22 games with the Toronto Marlies, where he recorded 22 points. He also suited up for one game with the Maple Leafs but was held off the scoresheet. He has played in a combined 86 career games, scoring just eight goals and 30 points.
At the time of the trade, Hanowski was in his fourth and final season with St. Cloud State. Much like Agostino, he had a solid junior season in college, scoring 23 goals and 43 points in 39 games. However, he also regressed in his final season, registering 17 goals and 31 points in 37 matches.
When his 2012-13 season ended with St. Cloud State, he headed to Calgary and suited up for five games, in which he was able to score his first-ever NHL goal. It also turned out to be his last, as he would play just 11 games the following season but was held to just two assists in what would be his last ever stint as an NHLer. After the 2014-15 season, one which he spent entirely in the AHL, he chose to head to Germany to play in the DEL, where he has remained ever since.
As mentioned above, the Flames selected Klimchuk with the first-round (28th overall) pick they received from the Penguins in this trade. At the time, this pick looked very promising, as he was coming off of a 36-goal, 76-point season with the Regina Pats of the WHL. He went on to play two more seasons in the WHL, increasing his totals in each, before joining the Stockton Heat for the 2015-16 season.
His rookie season with the Heat cast some doubts over his future, as he really struggled with just three goals and nine points in 55 games. He was able to improve those totals over the next two seasons, though not to what Flames management or fans had in mind. He was able to get a brief shot during the 2017-18 season, where he appeared in a single NHL game but was held off the scoresheet.
He once again began the 2018-19 season in the AHL before being traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for defenceman Andrew Nielsen. Since the trade, he has remained in the AHL, most recently having suited up for the Belleville Senators during the 2019-20 season. It is safe to say that this pick was a miss by the Flames.
Nothing in Return
While it is easy to judge moves like this in hindsight, this was a very poor trade by the Flames and former general manager Jay Feaster. They likely would have been better off moving Iginla earlier in the season, as his value would have been much higher if teams could have had him for an entire season rather than just as a rental.
The three players they acquired suited up for a combined 24 games in a Flames uniform, further proving just how much of a disaster this deal was. Though they have had some successful seasons since the move, you can’t help but wonder how much better of a team they could be had they made a better decision regarding Iginla.
Colton Pankiw is a former Jr. A hockey player who now provides his knowledge of the game through writing. He’s been a very active and reliable source for nearly two years at The Hockey Writers. He is a credentialed writer for the Calgary Flames but also does features on other teams throughout the league. Other writing contributions include: Oil On Whyte, NHLtradetalk.com, and Markerzone.com. Colton is also a co-host of both Oilers Overtime and Flames Faceoff podcasts. Any interview requests or content info can be made through him on Twitter. Take a look at his work here.