One of the big questions going into this offseason for the New Jersey Devils is what was going to happen with UFA Jaromir Jagr after his terrific season with the team. That question appears to have been answered, as Jagr has reportedly re-upped with the Devils for another season. The initial news came from Jagr's comments after a practice for IIWF Worlds, where he will be representing the Czech Republic once again this spring:
Jaromir Jagr said after practice w/ national team he will continue in #njdevils team. He said he already has agreement with the club.— Roman Jedlicka (@jedli) April 29, 2014
After Jagr's comments, the story was then picked up by Tom Gulitti, which usually means it's a pretty sure thing. Eventually, Renaud Lavoie of TVA reported the details of the contract, so we know exactly what we're looking at for the deal:
One year deal for Jaromir Jagr with the Devils. Value is between 5 and 6 million dollars depending on bonuses. #tvasports— Renaud Lavoie (@renlavoietva) April 29, 2014
So, there you have it. It appears the 42-year old winger will be back for another go around for the Devils in the 2014-15 season. I, for one, have to say I am pretty thrilled, even with the bit of a raise he is getting. The bottom line is that he was the hands-down MVP of the team this season, so whatever way you slice it, it was going to be a big hole to fill if he weren't coming back.
This news wasn't necessarily surprising, mind you. Jagr has repeatedly said he enjoys it here in New Jersey and is a fan of Pete DeBoer's system. It probably wasn't too bad a feeling for him to be top dog again after being in a secondary role the prior few seasons, either. He and Travis Zajac have started to develop a nice rapport with one another too, as both were absolute possession monsters when they were on the ice together. It would nice to see what they could to with an upgrade on their left in the upcoming season.
Overall, just looking at his numbers (whether they are of the normal or fancystats variety), it's not too hard to see just how crucial he was to this team last season. He made a lot of us (myself included) who were tepid on the deal last summer look foolish in retrospect. He pretty much blew everyone out of the water in points and also lead all regulars in 5v5 Corsi%. Jagr was the total package last season. The age concerns will obviously always linger (he will turn 43 next season), but he showed no signs of slowing down towards the end of this seasons campaign and, for all we know at this point, is a robot.
Off the ice, he was just as much of a delight as he possesses the ability to make the most mundane thing in the universe -- hockey player quotes to beat reporters -- awesome. My personal favorite was his postgame roast of Dainius Zubrus back in December, but he always had something interesting to say. With a couple of frustrating seasons in New Jersey these bast couple years, he was a real bright spot and he probably kept a lot of people sane this season, both in the locker room and the stands.
The one small negative I can find here is that he'll be getting a pretty decent raise at a cap hit that I assume will be near $6MM with bonuses. That eats up a little bit of the Devils' cap flexibility, but with the way he played this past season, it's hard to claim that he doesn't deserve it. The Devils have some money coming off the books with Brodeur and the cap should be going up a fair bit, so they should likely still have a fair but of room to do what they want, anyway, particularly if they pull the trigger on a buyout of a defenseman like Anton Volchenkov or [crosses fingers] Bryce Salvador.
Most of all, I'm just happy that the Devils won't be losing arguably their best forward for the third consecutive season. So what's your take? Happy Jagr will be back? Okay with the reported terms? Can he replicate the season he just had or does father time eventually catch up with him? Is it wrong that I hope he plays until he is 50? Have at it with your feelings below on the Devils doing something that no one has been able to do in a quite a while: re-signing Jaromir Jagr.
UPDATE 4/30: Devils make it official:
IT'S OFFICIAL! #NJDevils have re-signed right wing Jaromir Jagr to a new contract.— New Jersey Devils (@NHLDevils) April 30, 2014
Jaromir Jagr's base salary will be $3.5 million for next season with bonuses (games-played) that could bring it to $5.5 million.— Rich Chere (@Ledger_NJDevils) April 30, 2014