Jarome Iginla feels rejuvenated after his late-season trade to the Los Angeles Kings, and the 39-year-old forward would like to play in the NHL again next season.
Iginla confirmed his hopes in a conference call Wednesday, three days after the Kings' season ended.
Los Angeles acquired the 20-year veteran on March 1 to aid in its ultimately fruitless playoff push. Iginla had six goals and three assists in 19 games for the Kings, his fifth NHL franchise.
Before the trade, Iginla occasionally felt worn down by a miserable season with the Colorado Avalanche. The chance to reconnect with Darryl Sutter, his former coach in Calgary, and to play in meaningful games again rekindled his passion for hockey.
"I would like to [play next season]," Iginla said. "But at the same time, I've got to wait and see what the options are. So it's not 100 per cent, but I definitely would like to. But I've got to wait and see what options, and where things are at."
Iginla was a definite improvement to the low-scoring Kings' offence, and his speed even impressed his younger teammates on a sometimes plodding team. He scored three power-play goals and four game-winning goals during his six weeks in Los Angeles, which faded from the playoff race late and finished 10th in the Western Conference.
Iginla said he would definitely consider returning to Los Angeles, but nobody knows what the Kings will be seeking. They fired Sutter and general manager Dean Lombardi on Monday, appointing Hall of Fame defenceman Rob Blake as their new GM.
"I don't know if they're an option from their point of view," Iginla said. "They have to take time and do what they do in their analysis and stuff. But from my point of view, that would be an option. I did enjoy it. It was great for me."
Iginla might want to join a team closer to Stanley Cup contention as he continues to chase his first NHL title. Yet, he wouldn't be surprised by a quick rebound from the Kings, who won championships in 2012 and 2014 with largely the same core that has won just one playoff game in three seasons since.
"It is a top organization," Iginla said. "You go there and you see the core that they have with [Drew] Doughty, [Jake] Muzzin, some of the young [defencemen], one of the best goalies in the world [in Jonathan Quick], some of the best centremen in the world with [Jeff] Carter and [Anze] Kopitar. I know it's a tough time there right now, but if anyone can turn it around quickly, they would be one of the organizations with that kind of core that can bounce back and have a great year."
Iginla has 625 goals and 675 assists, giving him an even 1,300 points in 1,554 career NHL games. He spent his first 151/2 seasons with the Calgary Flames before suiting up for Pittsburgh, Boston, Colorado and Los Angeles over the past five years.