By Allan Muir
It's been rumored for days. Now, it's all but official: Jaromir Jagr is only one punch away from filling out his old Atlantic Division card. (All he needs now is to sign on with the Islanders.) The 41-year-old star has reportedly inked a one-year deal with the New Jersey Devils, delaying his retirement yet again.
No surprise that it was the Devils who stepped up here. There weren't many teams that had both the cap space and the need for Jagr.
New Jersey fit the bill. The Devils were desperate for a player who has some panache after Ilya Kovalchuk defected to the KHL earlier this month. And at just one year (no terms have been released), they're hardly joined at the hip with the aging forward. It's a limited-risk deal.
Still, what Jagr brings to the table in no way resembles what was lost when Kovy bolted. No speed. No heavy shot. No point presence on the power play. No intimidation factor. So, basically, that limited risk comes with limited reward.
Well, limited for now, anyway. If Jagr plays well during the season, and the Devils are out of the playoff mix as expected, they might be able to turn him into futures at the trade deadline. That approach worked well last season for the Dallas Stars, who shipped him to Boston for a pick that became a first rounder (Jason Dickinson) and two prospects (Lane MacDermid and Cody Payne). For a franchise that has to forfeit its first-round pick next year as part of the punishment for attempting an end-run around the salary cap with its initial attempt to sign Ilya Kovalchuk in 2010, the Jagr move might be about adding a bargaining chip rather than a player.