Jaromir Jagr an Intriguing Option in Free Agency, But Doesn’t Appear to Be Right Fit for Bruins


June 19, 2012

Jaromir Jagr an Intriguing Option in Free Agency, But Doesn't Appear to Be Right Fit for BruinsJaromir Jagr enjoyed his first season in Philadelphia, but not enough to prevent him from checking out what other opportunities may be available to him next year.

Jagr appears set to test the free agent market on July 1, as was first reported by TSN's Darren Dreger on Monday. Despite his age, the 40-year-old veteran will attract plenty of interest with precious few proven scorers available this summer.

One team that may kick the tires to see if there is any tread left is the Bruins. On the surface, it appears that could be a match, but bringing the five-time NHL scoring camp to Boston seems unlikely.

The Bruins could certainly use an infusion of offensive skill, particularly on their anemic power play. Even at his advanced age, Jagr still knows how to take advantage of a power-play opportunity, posting 8-12-20 totals on the man advantage in 73 games last year. By comparison, Zdeno Chara led the Bruins in power-play points with 8-10-18 totals, while Tyler Seguin was the club's top forward at 5-10-15.

Jagr had 19-35-54 totals overall last year as he returned to the NHL following three seasons in the KHL. He added eight points (six on the power play) in 11 playoff games, but appeared worn down by the grind late in the season and in the playoffs and was sidelined several times with a nagging groin injury.

While owning a Hall of Fame resume that includes a pair of Cup rings with the Penguins in 1991 and 1992, Jagr doesn't quite fit the mentor role of past veterans the Bruins have brought in like Mark Recchi. Jagr has matured over the years, but still isn't the kind of locker room leader that would rally the troops. Nor do the Bruins necessarily need that any longer after the experience they gained together as a group in their 2011 Cup run.

The Bruins have kept that core together, re-signing forwards Daniel Paille, Chris Kelly and Gregory Campbell earlier this month. That gives Boston 12 regular forwards returning from last year's squad, leaving little room for any additions. Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli left open the possibility that the club could still add a top-nine forward in free agency, but that now appears unlikely. The Bruins also have the option of re-signing restricted free agent Benoit Pouliot and have several prospects ready to make a run at a roster spot up front in camp.

Jagr also had issues with his playing time in Philadelphia, despite spending much of the season on the top line with Claude Giroux and Scott Hartnell. He's not likely to be interested in a third-line role in Boston replacing Pouliot, but unless Nathan Horton is unable to return to his pre-injury form as he tries to make his way back from a concussion, there is no obvious spot for Jagr to play on the top two lines.

Jagr could be excellent insurance if Horton's return is delayed or it takes him some time to regain his form, but that would be an awfully expensive insurance policy that could cause issues with finding enough ice time for everyone.

That also brings up the matter of fitting Jagr under the Bruins cap. Boston can't even officially sign Kelly to his extension until July 1 because of cap restrictions. They'll get relief once the departing free agents' contracts are off the books and depending on what happens with the new CBA, the cap may rise next season. But the Bruins don't have a lot of space to play with, especially with Tim Thomas leaving $5 million of dead money on the cap while he takes his sabbatical and restricted free agent Tuukka Rask still needing to be re-signed.

Jagr made $3.3 million last year when there were still doubts about how productive he could be coming off his extended stint in the KHL. Now he's proven he can still perform in the NHL and the lean market for productive forward is likely part of his reason to test the waters. Jagr will be looking for a decent payday, and the Bruins are not well-positioned to give it to him.

Seeing Jagr in the right shade of Black and Gold after all those years in Pittsburgh is sure to be a tantalizing thought to many Bruins fans. But while stranger things have happened when the checkbooks come out on July 1, it doesn't appear that this is a match likely to happen.

Have a question for Douglas Flynn? Send it to him via Twitter at @douglasflynn or send it here. He will pick a few questions to answer every week for his mailbag.

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