Is Jaromir Jagr Still an Impact Player? (Yes)

USATSI_8517372_154158418_lowresAs we discussed yesterday, the Florida Panthers have a solid balance of young and veteran talent. With Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov among the forward group, it’s always nice to have someone like Jaromir Jagr in the fold.

But how effective is Jagr at this stage of the game? He is, after all, 43 years old and he’ll turn 44 in February of 2016. By his own admission, he’s not as effective a player as he used to be.

The thing is that the Panthers went 12-7-2 after they landed Jagr in a trade with the New Jersey Devils. Prior to Jagr, Florida was 26-22-13. If we use logical prognostications, the Panthers were projected to hit 87 points in their pre-Jagr days. With Jagr in the lineup, they were projected to hit 101 points over the course of the season. That’s a pretty significant difference.

Jagr is the league’s oldest active player, but he still put up 18 points in 20 games with the Panthers. And after the season ended, he joined the Czech Republic’s national team for the 2015 World Championship tournament. In 10 games there, he scored nine points and was named the tournament MVP. Not bad for a 43-year-old.

This coming season will be Jagr’s 22nd. He’s played for eight teams throughout his career thus far, has recorded 722 career goals thus far and is fourth all-time in points with 1,802. Gordie Howe has 1,850 and Jagr could easily stickhandle his way to third place this season.

Another thing: Jagr is first all-time in game-winning goals with 129. Phil Esposito is second on the list with 118, but Jagr keeps piling them up. He had two game-winners in his stretch with the Panthers thus far and will add more this season. Count on it.

The offensive numbers are obvious to anyone with the ability to reason, but defensively Jagr is no slouch.

Consider that Jagr actually led the National Hockey League in Corsi Against per 60 minutes in 2013-2014. He did this while averaging 1.98 points per game at even strength. Some credit Jagr’s (very) brief time with the Boston Bruins as critical for his defensive development, which seems odd to say considering he was 41 when he joined Claude Julien’s team for 11 regular season games and 22 post-season games.

Regardless, the argument is there to be made. The numbers show that Jagr excels at making his teammates better, which is good news for Barkov and Co., plus he’ll still put up points. The Panthers have him locked in at a steal at $3.5 million for the season. Jagr’s still an impact player in this game and he’ll have yet another chance to prove it in Florida. Let the fun begin.


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