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Devils sign Jagr to help fill offensive void

Tuesday, 07.23.2013 / 3:58 PM
Mike G. Morreale  - NHL.com Staff Writer

New Jersey Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello made it official Tuesday when he announced the signing of veteran right wing Jaromir Jagr to a reported one-year contract.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed by the team, but Sportsnet is reporting the contract will pay Jagr $2 million this season. If he plays in at least 45 games, he will earn an extra $2 million in bonus money.

Jagr, who admitted he showed interest in at least three other clubs, said less travel, a familiarity within the Eastern Conference, and an opportunity to play with the Devils were reasons he decided to sign. He'll wear jersey No. 68.

"I'm 41 years old and do not have many more options," Jagr said on a conference call. "Not many teams are looking for a forward my age, especially with the salary cap going down. My agent [Petr Svoboda] asked if I would be willing to play for New Jersey and I was. I talked to Lou even before [Ilya] Kovalchuk retired and after he retired.

"I felt it was even more important for me to play on the Devils roster [after Kovalchuk's NHL retirement]."

The Devils could certainly use Jagr in the lineup. The club has been in need of a proven scorer since the departure of Zach Parise via free agency in 2012 and Kovalchuk's surprise announcement earlier this month. Jagr had 16 goals and 19 assists last season.

Even with Kovalchuk and David Clarkson, who was lost via free agency earlier this month, the Devils were 28th in goals scored and 21st in power-play percentage in 2012-13 on the way to finishing 11th in Eastern Conference.

"I certainly watched him the last couple of years, with Philly and Boston in the playoffs," Lamoriello told The (Bergen) Record. "I've never seen him work so hard and make people around him better. I just felt with his experience and what he can bring to the power play, he still has the size and strength."

Jagr ranks 34th all-time in NHL games played (1,391), 10th in goals (681), 12th in assists (1,007) and eighth in points (1,688). Jagr's career spans 19 seasons with six teams, five from the Eastern Conference.

Jagr said he isn't worried about the rigors of an 82-game schedule.

"I know people will say we had a shortened season last year, but it was the longest season for me," Jagr said. "Counting my time in Europe and the NHL regular season and playoffs, I played in the most games ever in one season."

Jagr played 34 games for HC Kladno in the Czech Republic during the work stoppage before playing 67 with the Dallas Stars and Boston Bruins.

"There was only one thing on my mind this year and that was to stay in the NHL," Jagr said. "I wasn't thinking about joining the KHL at all. If anything, I probably would have played in Prague [Czech Republic] if I didn't sign with an NHL team."

He was a big influence on many of the young players for the Philadelphia Flyers during the 2011-12 season, his first back in the NHL after three in Europe, when he had 19 goals and 54 points. He was equally valuable to the Stars in 34 games last season, posting 14 goals and 26 points before his trade to the Bruins on April 2.

The likely Hall of Fame member played on a line with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand late in the season and playoffs during his stint in Boston. He also chipped in on the power play with the first unit.

Though Jagr did not score a goal in 22 postseason games for the Bruins, he did have 10 assists and ranked fourth on the team with 58 shots. He's goalless in 31 consecutive playoff games dating to 2011-12, marking the longest postseason drought of his career.

With the acquistion of Jagr, the Devils have the two active players from the 1990 NHL Draft. Jagr was selected fifth by the Pittsburgh Penguins and goalie Martin Brodeur was chosen No. 20.

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mikemorrealeNHL

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