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What should be expected of Jarome Iginla next season?

Jarome Iginla; John Mitchell

Calgary Flames forward Jarome Iginla, left, celebrates his second goal of the game as Toronto Maple Leafs forward John Mitchell, right, look on during third-period NHL hockey game action on Saturday, Nov. 14, 2009, in Toronto. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press,Nathan Denette)


It’s hard to root against Jarome Iginla.

He’s a great role model for hopeful black hockey players, a leader willing to drop the gloves with a wide array of opponents and just seems like a quality human being overall. Sure, Sean Avery might make fun of him for being bland, but what Iginla lacks in flash he makes up for it in sheer likability.

Still, there’s little doubt that Iginla’s game declined considerably as the right winger’s point total dropped from 89 in 08-09 to 69 points last season. Stats blog Behind the Net posits the question: what can the Calgary Flames expect from Iginla?

Iginla’s been an ironman for the last three seasons, but any player over age 30 has a huge injury risk. In this case, his 3-2-1 average projection is a vast overestimate of his likely performance. It’s really a tough call: the most likely outcome is that Iginla doesn’t get hurt and he puts up numbers similar to last season, but there’s a high likelihood that he falls apart.

Injuries or not, it’s going to be a challenging season for Jarome Iginla and the Calgary Flames. While it’s hard to imagine many Flames fans shedding a tear if the team gets rid of the Sutter brothers, Iosing Iginla would hurt quite a bit more. His salary cap hit is a substantial $7 million per year for three more seasons, so the Flames might be forced to trade their captain while he still has trade value if he doesn’t turn things around.

What kind of season should the Flames expect from their aging captain and leader? Chances are, they might expect too much.