On Tuesday afternoon the New Jersey Devils officially announced the signing of 41-year-old forward Jaromir Jagr to a one-year contract, paying $2 million in base salary and a $2 million games-played-based bonus. For those wondering why Jagr would sign in New Jersey, the Devils likely offered him both a high salary and the best chance to play a lot of minutes. With such a depleted offense, New Jersey could use Jagr in a top six role this season. Everyone has been focusing on how Jagr can help the Devils replace the gaps left by the departures of David Clarkson and Ilya Kovalchuk, but there is much more to it than that.
The immediate impact of signing Jagr seems to be the most discussed. The Devils are looking to replace a lot of scoring they have lost over the past year in the loss of Zach Parise, David Clarkson, and Ilya Kovalchuk. However, the Devils have not written this coming year off as a “rebuilding” year as they have signed forwards Michael Ryder, Ryane Clowe, Rostislav Olesz and now Jaromir Jagr. Despite his age, Jagr scored 35 points last season (16G – 19A – 35Pts), for the Dallas Stars and Boston Bruins, in 45 games. This scoring pace puts Jagr at about a 30-goal season had it been over the course of the standard 82-game campaign. Jagr, at 6’3” 240lbs., also brings some size to an otherwise small Devils offense.
Fun Fact: Jaromir Jagr and Martin Brodeur are the only players still playing in the NHL from the 1990 NHL Entry Draft.
Another aspect of Jagr’s presence in New Jersey is the development of young talent. Along with another veteran, Czech forward Patrik Elias, Jagr promises to be a guiding hand in the development of young players on the Devils. With many young forwards such as Travis Zajac, Adam Henrique, Andrei Loktionov, Stefan Matteau, Rostislav Olesz, Jacob Josefson, and perhaps even Reid Boucher, Jagr’s 21 years in the NHL will hopefully help aid the youth movement in New Jersey.
In addition to Jagr’s playing abilities, his trade value is also a major acquisition for New Jersey. After signing Jagr to a one-year contract last season, the Dallas Stars ended up trading the veteran to the Boston Bruins to help them in their quest for the Stanley Cup. In return, the Stars received two prospects and a conditional second round draft pick, which became a first round pick if Boston advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals; they did. This is a big deal for a depleted Devils organization. The Devils lack promising forwards in their farm system and just lost their 30-year-old superstar whose lucrative contract cost the Devils their 2014 first-round pick. Not only do they now have Jaromir Jagr around to help develop what young forwards they do have, but they also have a major trading piece should they find themselves outside of the playoffs when the trade deadline comes around. An additional first round pick next year would be a major addition for the Devils organization, as they could then suffer the penalty for their CBA circumvention, via the Kovalchuk contract, but still have a first round draft pick.
Lastly, signing Jagr is just a great business decision for a financially burdened organization that may have had some attendance trouble next season. The Devils had incredible fan attendance last year, but this was likely to change with the early retirement of Ilya Kovalchuk greatly reducing their chances of having much success during the 2013-2014 season. Signing Jagr, who is arguably one of the greatest players of all time, will not only sell merchandise but will keep fans coming to games.