The Calgary Flames have pulled off the biggest coup of the offseason, agreeing to terms with Jaromir Jagr on a one-year deal worth $1 million plus another million available in bonuses.
Jagr is done to CAL. $1M+$1M in bonuses. I think it might not be announced until he gets to the city, but there is a commitment.
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) October 2, 2017
This is a fantastic deal on many fronts, but namely that we get to see Jagr and his legendary mullet back in the NHL for a 24th season.
It’s not just a smart PR stunt, although the Flames could definitely use some good press after their horrible handling of arena negotiations this summer, but a savvy and logical hockey move.
Despite being 45 years old, Jagr can still play. He put up 16 goals and 46 points while playing in all 82 games with the Panthers last year, albeit mostly on a line with young stars Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau when he was healthy. Although Jagr benefited from his talented linemates, he was a constant play driver (54.85 CF%) and offensive catalyst (1.75 points/60) while leading the team in power-play goals (8). You can’t find better value on the open market.
Bringing in Jagr gives the Flames some impressive depth. As it stands now, it seems likely that he will slot in on the third line alongside Sam Bennett and Kris Versteeg, which keeps Troy Brouwer stapled on the fourth line. He’ll also bolster a power play that was already pretty good and finished 10th in the NHL a year ago, and having him around to mentor Calgary’s young players can only help.
Those are some of the intangibles Flames coach Glen Gulutzan got a first-hand look at during their brief time together with the Dallas Stars in 2012-13.
“Probably the most impressive thing with Jags, for me, of all those physical skills – the size and the strength and the hands – is his hockey IQ is off the charts,” Gulutzan told reporters in January. “His hockey smarts and what he sees on the ice is just way above. We clipped some clips, I remember back in Dallas, that we sat and watched as a coaching staff going, ‘Oh my God, how did he even do that?’
“With his strength on the puck and his hockey IQ … He can score. He can pass. He can do it all.”
Even putting aside everything Jagr does on the ice, the signing carries significant cultural cachet. For starters, there’s stuff like this, which is great fun.
Jaromir Jagr and Keith Tkachuk were drafted in Rd. 1 back in 1990. 27 years later, Jagr will now play on the same team as Matthew Tkachuk.
— Ian McLaren (@iancmclaren) October 2, 2017
So too is the connection to The Travelling Jagrs, the band of mullet-wearing super fans based out of Calgary. It should make for quite the scene in the stands of the Saddledome throughout the year.
Jagr is also in line to make a bit of history with the Flames, as he sits just 20 assists back of Ray Bourque for fourth all-time — a mark he will likely surpass while wearing the flaming C.
This is the first Canadian stop in Jagr’s career, having previously played for Florida, New Jersey, Boston, Dallas, Philadelphia, New York, Washington and Pittsburgh. It wouldn’t be right to see Jagr ride off into the sunset without playing north of the border for one of hockey’s most passionate fan bases. The possibility of seeing Jagr rock Canadian tuxedos with cowboy boots on the regular is just a bonus.