It was sad to see Iginla get traded and that Kipper was playing backup. Unfortunately, that's what happens. If you're really good, you either play long enough to leave on your own terms or you hang on to watch your skills diminish and your minutes drop. It's a horrible in-between for some of the games' greats. GM Jay Feaster finally pulled the trigger on these two superstars, which was a feat in itself. It's not easy to keep a fan population happy while doing that, but he did it smart. Both moves were done within a reasonable time of each other, making the transition easier.
A strong draft helped the team move on as 2013 6th overall pick Sean Monahan has been the teams leading goal scorer with four goals in five games. He has points in all five games and I have to believe he hangs around for longer than his nine game trial this year. Another huge reason this team has been able to compete is leadership. Jarome Iginla was a fantastic Captain. Mark Giordano is proving to be a great Captain as well. He is tied for second in team scoring with two goals and four assists and plays just over 24 minutes per game. The team is full of other hard working, overachievers like Curtis Glencross, T.J. Galiardi and Dennis Wideman. That's not to say they're not skilled - that comment is meant to say that these players are realizing their potential. Last year's big off-season acquisition Jiri Hudler is leading the team with seven points and other youngsters Sven Baertschi, Joe Colborne, Mikael Backlund and T.J. Brodie are all finding their way and contributing in one way or another. And I have to mention the motivational Brian McGrattan - hard not to love this guy. He wears his heart on his sleeve.
Last, but not least, you have the goaltenders: Joey MacDonald and Karri Ramo. MacDonald has gotten four of the five starts and both of them have something to prove to the NHL. MacDonald is on his sixth NHL team in seven years and Ramo spent parts of three season in Tampa Bay before returning to the KHL for the last four seasons and putting up stellar numbers in the process.
This is a team that is easy to root for and appears to be growing together in a fashion that could make them dangerous in coming years. I don't anticipate a playoff run this season, but they could play spoilers for sure. I hope that the fans in the Sea of Red have great success soon; the team and fans deserve it and the league will be better for it.