To B or not to B

Players over 35 are proving more and more that professional hockey is not just a game for the young impact players. There are a number of top-level players proving rather valuable for teams right now and one of those is Boston Bruins’ Jarome Iginla. He’ll be 37 this summer and will be faced with some tough career decisions as he decides how and where he might like to serve out the final years in his outstanding career.

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Many speculate that he’ll stick with Boston as the team is a perennial playoff contender and others still take the opinion that he may be more likely to minimize his risk and rally for a multi-year deal with another top tier club, should that present itself. The stipulations of his current contract with the Bruins make for quite a lucrative deal in terms of the bonus structure that is now in place for Iginla and he stands to cash in on quite of bit in bonus should he continue to play in the fashion he has displayed up to date. The winger inked a deal last summer that gave him a base salary of $1.8 million but so far he has netted another $3.7 million in bonuses for playing 10 games this season. He’ll snag another $250,000 once he crosses the 30 goal milestone and if Boston takes the Cup, another quarter of million will be added, bringing him up to a whopping $6 million. Due to cap space restrictions, a portion of that may have to be carried into the 2014-15 season. The Bruins are weighing rather heavily on the bonus deals on other players this season as well with Doug Hamilton and Torey Krug also poised to collect this season, adding around $1 million to the Boston salary cap.

With the provisions of the collective bargaining agreement allowing the club just over $9 million in cap space for next season based on the assumption that the cap will top out at $71.1 million and with as much as $4.2 million in Iginla’s bonuses being pushed forward into that season, there won’t leave much on the table to play with if they want to keep him on board with a similar arrangement next year. Come July 1st when the free agent frenzy begins, he could be sitting in a position that makes him a bit more accessible to other clubs and everything may hinge of his own personal loyalty or need for security. Because these bonus-laden deals are only allowable on a year to year basis, they won’t be able to solidify a multi-year promise negating the safety he may very well seek.

The contingencies rely rather heavily on Iginla’s own priorities. Would he prefer to finish his career on a team that consistently vies for the Stanley Cup and opt for glory? Perhaps, he would like to remove the vulnerability of approaching 40 and connect with a team to ride out his career with greater security and less grandeur. With about $78.3 million in career earnings already netted, one thing is definitely certain – come July 1st, Iginla’s decision will not likely be based on income alone.

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