The easiest way to earn a trade when sending a Hockey Hall of Fame member is to bring in another. This is what Flames general manager Al Coates did in December 1995.

Joe Nieuwendyk wanted to go out. And Coates wanted a top-notch prospect – not a bundle – in exchange for the Flames star. It came in the form of 18-year-old Jarome Iginla of the Kamloops Blazers.

Coates says he knew the Flames had a good player with star potential. However, few people could have predicted what would become of Iginla. A Calgary newspaper ran a headline that read “Iginla Who?

“(He was a) junior prospect coming out, and how well he was going to excel, well, no one is going to suggest they knew that,” Coates said in an interview with The Athletic. “What we knew was (we were going to) have a player for the next 10 to 12 years in the organization who was going to play well at the NHL level and improve the organization.”

Most NHL trades have a winner and a loser. This one did not. Nieuwendyk won his second Stanley Cup – and a Conn Smythe Trophy – with Dallas. And now we know what Iginla did and what he brought to Calgary.

During a 20-season NHL career, Iginla scored 625 goals and 1,300 points in 1,554 games. He has won or competed for almost every award available for an NHL forward, including two Rocket Richard trophies and an Art Ross and he was – surprisingly – a finalist for the Hart in 2002. He also added the King Clancy, Ted Lindsay and Mark Messier Leadership awards in his trophy case. He won two Olympic gold medals with Team Canada and missed a Stanley Cup goal in 2004.


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