Bruins’ Jarome Iginla Is NHL’s Best Free-Agent Acquisition From 2013 Offseason

Jarome Iginla is the model of consistency.

The Boston Bruins forward strengthened his Hall of Fame resume in Saturday afternoon’s 4-2 win over the Washington Capitals with two second-period goals, increasing his team-leading total to 30. Iginla has become the B’s third 30-goal scorer in the Claude Julien era, joining Phil Kessel (36, 2008-09) and Milan Lucic (30, 2010-11).

It’s also the 12th 30-goal season of his career (12th in a row, excluding lockout years), which is a feat that legendary scorers such as Mark Messier, Steve Yzerman, Mike Bossy and Mario Lemieux never accomplished.

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The 36-year-old winger has made a seamless transition to the Bruins top line alongside David Krejci and Lucic, replacing Nathan Horton at right wing. Even though Horton scored some clutch playoff goals in his tenure with the Original Six team, he was incredibly inconsistent offensively and lacked durability.

Iginla has given the Bruins consistent scoring production and a reliable presence in the lineup by playing in all 74 of the team’s games.

Towards the end of his career with the Calgary Flames, Iginla didn’t have a legitimate No. 1 center on his line, and was forced to create a lot of scoring chances by himself. That’s no longer the case in Boston, where Krejci and Lucic have picked up a combined 29 assists on Iginla’s 30 goals. They have formed one of the NHL’s most unstoppable trios with a total of 67 goals and 109 assists.

Even when he doesn’t score, Iginla makes an impact by playing exceptional defense, being physical in all three zones, killing penalties and providing leadership. But over the few months, getting on the scoresheet hasn’t been a problem for Iginla.

His 17 goals since Jan. 20 are the second-most among all players, three behind Detroit Red Wings winger Gustav Nyquist. In his first 53 games with the Bruins, Iginla scored 15 goals. He’s scored 15 times in just the last 21 games. Through 74 games, the veteran winger ranks second on the team in scoring (60 points), first in goals (30), first in game-winning goals (eight), third in assists (30) and second in shot percentage (15.3).

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Iginla’s consistent scoring and passion have been major reasons why the Bruins are playing like a team fighting for a playoff spot despite already clinching the Atlantic Division crown.

Helping a great player and an even better teammate puts the exclamation point on a Hall of Fame career with a Stanley Cup title will be a powerful motivator for the Bruins when the postseason arrives.

They want Iginla to have his own Ray Bourque moment.

GIF via Twitter/@PeteBlackburn

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