Everyone already knows the first chapter of this story: how the Bruins made an offer, one that was approved, for Calgary Flames‘ star Jarome Iginla. How fans went to bed giddy that night as the deal had been confirmed by multiple sources.
And, how the thrill of acquiring the biggest name of the deadline was erased instantly when the Boston faithful awoke the next morning to find out Iginla decided to go to the Pittsburgh Penguins instead.
It was tough to swallow, but Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli needed to react positively and find another deal to upgrade his team. In the end, he did, trading with the Dallas Stars to pick up future Hall of Famer Jaromir Jagr. Fans and media alike applauded the deal. Yes, Iginla was the ideal choice, but Jagr brought more upside from the Bruins perspective.
Even at age 41, Jagr was the more offensively talented option. Coming into Boston, he had already scored 14 goals and 12 assists, compared to Iginla’s nine goals and 13 assists. Jagr required less in terms of trade assets, and also had an expiring contract.
The bottom line: Jagr was a hired gun, a skilled scorer the Bruins got pretty cheaply to inject some life into their offense.
In terms of regular season play, Jagr played quite well for Boston. Coming into the playoffs, Jagr had two goals and seven assists for nine points. But, it was the postseason that Boston truly acquired Jagr for. The Bruins are now eight games into said playoffs, and it’s worth taking a look at how this deal is playing out for them.
I touched on this a little bit in my last piece, but right now it’s safe to say Jagr is struggling a bit.
Right away, the most obvious thing you can say about Jagr is that speed has left him far behind. He’s had a few breakaways, but just doesn’t have the wheels to get him to the net fast enough. This affects both his puck movement through the neutral zone as well as his ability to transition back into defense.
His time on Boston’s much-maligned power play hasn’t really contributed too much either. The unit still struggles more often than not, and he has yet to really generate a chance for himself on the man advantage.
However there’s one issue with the Czech winger that’s really becoming a problem as the playoffs continue: Jagr’s a bit of a puck-hog.
Early on in his time with Boston, fans were reveling at how difficult it was to bump Jagr off the puck. He’d have two, sometimes three opponents on his back as he skated around the offensive zone, the puck following him wherever he went.
Now? Well, he’s doing the same thing, just not passing. It’s becoming very obvious Jagr is trying to do everything on his own, whether it be a distrust of his teammates, ego, or both.
Yes, it’s pretty tough to generate offense when you’re sharing a line with Rich Peverley and Chris Kelly, neither are known for their scoring touch. That being said, the more you watch Jagr, the more you see how early he gave up on these two.
Trying to mix it up, coach Claude Julien bumped him up a line with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand in Game 1 against the New York Rangers. It’s only been one game, but nothing seemed to change too much. Jagr still skates the puck all over the ice, shoving defenders off his back until he’s eventually overwhelmed and turns it over. Even worse, he’s even been seen stealing the puck from his own teammates.
Nobody can discount his astounding career numbers. However, Jagr needs to know he’s not the same player he used to be. Age has slowed him down, and the game is too fast for what he’s trying to do. He can still contribute for the Bruins; he just needs to realize he’s not a one-man highlight reel anymore.
Jagr was acquired to score playoff goals for Boston. With a pretty quiet performance eight games in, it’s tough to give him a passing grade.
But that’s just me. How would you grade Jagr so far?