BOSTON – The Boston Bruins acquired Jaromir Jagr from the Dallas Stars on Tuesday, hoping the 10th-leading goal scorer in NHL history can improve their shaky offence even at age 41.
His peak years far behind him, Jagr still should boost the Bruins weak power play as they gear up for the playoffs after missing out on their first choice to improve their attack.
The deal for two prospects and a draft pick came six days after the Bruins thought they obtained forward Jarome Iginla from the Calgary Flames, only to learn Iginla had been traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
“As you progress in years, obviously your skill set and other things … lessen,” Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said, “but (Jagr’s) game is still the strong power game and he’s leading the (Stars) in scoring and you watch him play and you see a lot of what you used to see in him.
“I’m confident that Jaromir will accept whatever role he’s given.”
With wings Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton underachieving on offence this season, one of them could be dropped to the third line to make room for Jagr.
“Obviously, there’s a need on the third line, but he’s got a higher-line pedigree,” Chiarelli said. “What I said to Jaromir was that we pride ourselves on four strong lines and he’s an important part but not the (main) part to the success. So he can be on the third line.”
Jagr was traded for forwards Lane MacDermid and Cody Payne, and a conditional second-round pick in this year’s draft that becomes a first-rounder if the Bruins reach the Eastern Conference finals.
“In this process, through this player and the other player (Iginla), this whole trade period, teams have been asking for a lot of our different prospects,” Chiarelli said. “If (there’s) anything I can take away from this, it’s that our prospects have some good value.”
In his first season with the Stars, Jagr has 14 goals and 26 points.
Entering Tuesday night’s game against the Ottawa Senators, Brad Marchand led the Bruins with 14 goals and Patrice Bergeron was first with 31 points. Jagr, who is expected to join the Bruins on Wednesday, has 679 career goals.
Jagr also has six power-play goals, twice as many as Bruins leaders Marchand and Tyler Seguin, and should help the team with the 24th-ranked power play in the NHL going into Tuesday’s game.
With the trade deadline coming Wednesday and the Stars in 12th place in the Western Conference, they decided to trade a player who could become a free agent after the season.
“Jaromir Jagr produced as a consistent scorer for our team all year and we would like to thank him for his contributions to our hockey club,” Dallas Stars general manager Joe Nieuwendyk said. “With our eye to the future, we have acquired some valuable assets that we believe strengthen our organization.”
Jagr has won five scoring titles, 1998-99 league MVP honours and Stanley Cups in his first two NHL seasons, with the Penguins in 1990-91 and 1991-92, after they took him with the fifth pick in the 1990 draft.
But his strength and scoring ability could spark a Bruins team that was in fourth place in the East but ranked just seventh in the conference in goals—with only 17 in their past eight games—at the time of the trade.
“His career speaks for itself. He’s a strong player, protects the puck well,” Chiarelli said. “I know he’s 41 now, but he’s been one of their best players in Dallas. Last year he was one of (Philadelphia’s) best players.”
Jagr joins his sixth team after playing for Pittsburgh, the Washington Capitals, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers and Dallas. He spent three seasons in Russia before returning to the NHL with the Flyers last season.
Jagr’s 679 goals are 11 behind Mario Lemieux, who is ninth in NHL history. Jagr is 12th with 1,000 assists and eighth with 1,679 points. His 116 game-winning goals are second, two behind Phil Esposito, and his 195 power-play goals are 18th.
“He gives us an element of offence,” Chiarelli said. “He gives us an element of size. In this day and age, you have to have the strength, fortitude, body, whatever you want to call it, to get to the front of the net.”
The Bruins had preferred to trade for Iginla, and Chiarelli thought he had done that last Wednesday in exchange for defenceman Matt Bartkowski, minor-league forward Alexander Khokhlachev and a first-round draft choice.
But the Flames’ captain chose to go to Pittsburgh. He had a no-trade clause that allowed him to waive it for whatever team he picked.
The Stars get two players who were not among the Bruins’ top prospects.
MacDermid, 23, has played in eight NHL games with no points and seven shots. In 37 games this season for the Providence Bruins of the AHL, he has four goals and two assists.
Payne, 19, had 24 goals and 21 assists with 75 penalty minutes in 60 games this season with the Plymouth Whalers of the Ontario Hockey League. The Bruins drafted him in the fifth round last year.