COMMENTARY | Jaromir Jagr's tour of the former Atlantic Division continued Tuesday as the future Hall of Famer officially signed a one-year deal with the New Jersey Devils. The Devils will now be Jagr's sixth team in the NHL.
So, where does Jagr fit in?
It does not look like the Devils will have a true top line next season. Instead, the team will have to rely on balanced lines to spread out the scoring. Adding Jagr will certainly help in this regard, considering he still has the ability to score around 20 goals.
At first thought, it stands to reason that Jagr would play on the same line with fellow countryman Patrik Elias. Elias is arguably the Devils' top forward, however, and will likely be playing at least 18 minutes per game while playing in all situations. That would be too much ice time for Jagr. In order to keep the 41-year-old fresh, head coach Peter DeBoer may be better suited to play Jagr around 15 minutes each game.
As a result, Jagr could find himself on the third line with players such as Andrei Loktionov and Dainius Zubrus. It may also be wise to rest Jagr in back-to-back games as well. Quite simply, DeBoer will have to come up with ways to keep Jagr fresh through an 82-game season.
Jagr's biggest contribution should come on the power play, where he has always been a threat throughout his career. His presence would be a welcomed sight to a Devils power play unit that was 21st in the NHL in conversion percentage last season. In addition, Jagr's 6 power-play goals last season would have been tied for first on New Jersey.
There is no doubting that the Devils will be one of the slower teams in the NHL next season. Ryan Carter, Stephen Gionta and Adam Henrique are the only real quick skaters that the team has. The Devils are a very good puck possession team, however, which is obviously important and can counteract this. Jagr, one of the best at puck possession, will only help even more in this aspect.
Ultimately, the one-year deal for Jaromir Jagr is a win-win situation for the New Jersey Devils. For example, if the team disappoints and is out of the playoff picture by the trade deadline then general manager Lou Lamoriello can trade him to a contender. Although he is 41, Jagr is a legend in the NHL and his presence can only help soften the blow of Ilya Kovalchuk choosing to go home to Russia. No one expects Jagr to put up huge numbers anymore but, as mentioned earlier, he can only help New Jersey's scoring depth, which the team was devoid of at times last year.
At the very least, it will be pretty cool for fans to see Jagr in a Devils jersey. That is one thing I definitely never thought I would see.
Michael Pellegrini has followed the New Jersey Devils since the mid to late 1990s when they had players like Doug Gilmour and Dave Andreychuk in the later stages of their career.
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