By Allan Muir
The Boston Bruins acquired winger Jaromir Jagr from the Dallas Stars in exchange for prospects Lane MacDermid and Cody Payne and a conditional draft pick.
There will be a lot of talk about his remarkable career when this deal is discussed, but the Bruins didn’t trade for the 1996 Jagr. They got the 2013 model — far from a superstar, but still a solid contributor at age 41. He had 14 goals and 26 points in 34 games with a low-rent Dallas offense, generating most of his chances with hard work down low, something coach Claude Julien says the B’s have gotten away from lately. What’s most intriguing about him is that, despite his considerable size, he’s not a typical banging Boston winger…and that’s not a bad thing. Given his familiarity with top center David Krejci, he could replace Nathan Horton on that unit and give it a very different (and tougher to defend) look 5-on-5. But where the B’s really need him to shine is on their 24th-ranked power play. Jagr’s a left-handed shot but plays off the right boards, which changes the angle of attack from what was a predominantly left-side assault.
The Stars already gambled that Jagr would sell tickets (he didn’t) and guide the team into the playoffs (doesn’t look like they’ll make it). Contract extension talks had gone nowhere and there was little chance that he would return next season, so they move forward now with another pick and a couple more assets for down the line. Consider it a lesson learned from watching Brad Richards skate away for nothing two years ago.
That said, Joe Nieuwendyk didn’t exactly load up here. MacDermid, the son of former Whaler Paul, is a rough-and-ready 6′-3″, 205-pound middleweight who can step in immediately on the fourth line to patrol the beat (think a Krys Barch-type who actually wins his fights). A Memorial Cup-winner with Windsor, he’s accumulated more than 400 penalty minutes in two-plus seasons with AHL Providence. Payne is a 2012 fifth-rounder who showed progress this season with Plymouth of the OHL, scoring 24 goals in 65 games. At 6-2, 205, he plays a power forward-type game. He’s seen as a third-liner with a bit of upside potential. Both are tough to play against, but neither is a blue-chipper. If the Stars are going to score big here, it’ll have to be with the pick. Right now its a second-rounder, but it graduates to a 2013 first if the Bruins reach the Eastern Conference Finals.
It’s a decent package, but not the home run many expected. Were we overestimating the market demand for Jagr?
My quick take
While Stars fans wail about this return, it’s safe to say Nieuwy didn’t leave more appealing offers on the table. Could he have done better if he had sweated the Bruins out until the final moments? Maybe. Or maybe they would have gone elsewhere and he would have been left holding the bag. Bottom line, he adds three young assets in exchange for a player who wouldn’t have been in Dallas next year.
Whether he re-signs in Boston or not–and you never can tell with a mercenary like Jagr–this looks like a great deal for the Bruins, who add a top-six forward at a much lower price than they were willing to give up for Jarome Iginla. He’s not as complete a player, but he’s better offensively than Iggy and plays a style that gives the B’s a different dimension. Add in his work ethic and championship aura and this is a big win for GM Peter Chiarelli, who improved his club without having to cough up a top prospect.
Oh and Jagr should fit in seamlessly with his expected linemates. He played with Krejci on the Czech Olympic team in 2010, and apparently he’s known Milan Lucic forever.