The rumor mill and the Twitterverse is swirling right now because New Jersey Devils forward Jaromir Jagr has reportedly agreed to come back to play for them. He was the Devils’ best forward this season, even at the age of 42. He brought new life into a franchise that was deflated by the retirement of star forward Ilya Kovalchuk and the free agent loss of David Clarkson.
Jagr was everything the Devils could have asked for and more. He was great for the locker room during some of their lengthy losing streaks, and he was the voice of the locker room when the media was looking for answers. He was also the main reason for a Travis Zajac resurgence. He brought so much to this team on a $4 million contract that it won’t be a surprise if he gets a multi-year deal.
Jagr apparently told media members today after a practice with his Czech Republic team that a deal was in place to be a Devil next year. He seemed to love playing for the organization, repeatedly saying so throughout the season. Now that they have come to an agreement, he can help bring some of the bigger names onto the team.
Lou Lamoriello knows the value that Jagr brought to this team. Now they only need one more top-six forward and they could have a very good team going into 2014-15. Depending on how much Jagr makes, the Devils still have plenty of cap space. The salary cap is expected to be raised to over $70 million. That gives the Devils about $20 million to work with (prior to the Jagr deal). If he makes $5 million this season, that gives the Devils $15 million to sign a fourth line and one more top six player. This deal makes them serious players in free agency.
We can see a whole new Devils team in 2014-15. Cory Schneider will no doubt be the top goalie.
This could be the biggest re-signing of the offseason. The Devils will steal some headlines even when they haven’t made the playoffs. Lou made a great decision for this franchise, on and off the ice, by bringing Jagr back. Pete DeBoer can now make a game plan around his star player for the first time without worrying about him playing somewhere else. That is huge, and so was this signing.