BOSTON — Jarome Iginla didn’t definitively say he’ll return to the Bruins next season, but the veteran winger made it clear Friday that he really enjoyed playing for the Original Six club and his family likes the city.
“I hope to be able to come back,” Iginla said as the Bruins cleared out their lockers. “It’s something that hopefully there’s a deal there for everyone. But I know the Bruins got to look at what they want to do, but I really enjoyed it. I hope that there’s something that can be worked out there because I also think it’s a team that has as good of a shot as any to win.”
It doesn’t sound like Iginla wants to retire anytime soon.
“I feel good, I love playing the game,” he said. “I’d like to keep playing for a while longer and keep being effective. Not just playing, but putting pressure on myself to be a good player and help produce. I don’t want to just play for playing. I still believe I can be a very good player.”
“The desire to be better and ultimately win is definitely burning. I’ll be working hard this summer and can’t wait to be playing again next season.”
Iginla was one of Boston’s best players during the regular season. He tallied 30 goals for the 12th consecutive non-lockout season and finished third on the team in scoring with 61 points in 78 games. Even though he’s 36 years old, Iginla still is a very valuable player for the Bruins, both as a productive first-line forward and a tremendous leader.
Following the Phil Kessel trade before the 2009-10 season, only Lucic, Bergeron and Iginla have scored 30 or more goals for the Bruins. The fact that Iginla came into a defensive system with two new linemates and scored 30 goals is quite impressive, and judging by his work ethic and talent, there’s no reason to expect his 30-goal seasons streak to end in 2014-15.
Iginla also performed well in the playoffs, leading the team with five goals and finishing third in scoring with seven points. His power-play goal in the second period of Game 7 against Montreal gave Boston life, but the Bruins couldn’t finish the comeback.
Iginla signed a one-year deal with the Bruins last summer and is eligible for unrestricted free agency this summer. The Bruins have 10 pending free agents (five UFAs, five RFAs), and should have enough salary-cap space to re-sign Iginla to a fair deal. As of May 16, Boston has $9,120,357 in cap room with 17 players under contract for next season, per CapGeek.
“He had a good year,” Bruins head coach Claude Julien said of Iginla after Game 7. “Thirty goals — again, those 30-goal scorers are hard to find. … So he’s an unbelievable player but also an unbelievable person. He’s great, he fit in beautifully in our room with our players and certainly he was a real important — I thought part of the success that we had after losing Nathan Horton at the last minute. … To get him, to be able to get him as the guy to come in and replace him — we got lucky.”