After weeks of speculation it has finally been announced. Jaromir Jagr has signed a 1 year contract with the New Jersey Devils. The contract is worth $2 milllion in base salary, with an additional $2 million in games played bonuses. Undoubtedly, many fans will either love or hate this signing. Regardless of your opinion on Jagr, putting personal beliefs aside, this contract is a low risk high reward situation for the Devils. Although Jagr is 41 year of age in an already aging devils roster he can still bring lots to the table. Jagr has 89 points in 118 regular season games since returning to the NHL so it is no secret that he is still a threat on the ice. Notably, his leadership is something that will be invaluable to the Devils . Evidently, a significant concern with the addition of Jagr will be his speed. Speed is something the Devils have lacked over recent years, both on defense and offence. Although Jagr has slowed down in terms of speed with age, his point production in the 2012-13 season showed that this is nowhere near as much of an issue as many people believe it to be. In the 2012 season Jagr had 16 goals and 19 assists in 45 games; impressive numbers for the veteran winger at his age. It is clear that even at 41 years of age Jagr can still help out teams in terms of point production. Jagr is a big body, strong skater, with great hands and is among the best passers in the league. Undoubtedly, putting Jagr on a line with Elias will help increase the point production of centers like Travis Zajac and Adam Henrique.
The fact that the Devils do not have a first round draft pick for the 2014 draft would have significantly impacted Lou’s decision to sign Jagr. The reason for this is that, seemingly, if the Devils appear to be out of playoff contention leading up to the trade deadline, Lou has the ability to trade Jagr and get a second or first round draft pick. The Dallas Stars demonstrated this in the 2012-13 season when they traded Jagr for a conditional second round pick at the trade deadline. Ultimately, the Stars then received a first round draft pick due to the fact that the Boston Bruins made it to the Eastern Conference Finals in which they defeated the New York Rangers in 5 games. Ultimately, a one-year deal that has the possibility of becoming a high draft pick does not hurt the Devils in any way.
With the departure of Kovalchuck at the end of Free Agency Lou was left with few options. It wouldn’t be too alarming to believe that Lou didn’t want to commit to a long-term contract with the remaining players in the Free Agency. The reason for this is because with a one-year contract, Lou saves cap space for the 2014 Free Agency, a Free Agency that appears to be significantly deeper than the options Lou currently has remaining.