Boy how times have changed.
When the Bruins came out of the 2004-05 lockout and missed out on Mike Modano and Peter Forsberg in free agency, they turned around and signed Alexei Zhamnov.
What a historical career Zhamnov had with the Bruins, right?
That debacle went down before the reign of Peter Chiarelli as Bruins’ general manager. Chiarelli famously missed out on acquiring a big name last week. Jarome Iginla went to Pittsburgh but Chiarelli didn’t lower his expectations. So he shifted his focus to another future Hall-of-Famer and Tuesday Chiarelli completed a deal for Jaromir Jagr.
The price was minimal, as Corey Payne is a mid-level prospect as of now after a much-improved season in the OHL. Lane MacDermid projects as a solid fourth-liner down the road. The conditional second-round pick flexes to a low first-rounder if the Bruins reach the Eastern Conference Final. So the Bruins do not have their ’13 first- or second-round picks available for another trade. Well, adding Jagr is well worth it.
There’s been a lot of talk about how much Jagr has in the tank at 41. The numbers show he’s put up 14-12-26 totals this season with the Stars. His six power-play goals are twice as many as the most-productive Bruins power-play scorer (Tyler Seguin and Brad Marchand with three apiece). Jagr is a rental player, but he’s obviously not looking ahead to a summertime pay day. He came back to the NHL for one reason — to win the Stanley Cup — and after he failed with Philadelphia and Dallas proved to be a lesser threat this season, he’s coming to Boston to try one more run. I’m pretty sure it’ll also do Jagr’s heart well if he can help the Bruins ended Pittsburgh’s title hopes.
Maybe Dallas wins the Cup in five years with Payne leading the way, and/or the Stars turn that draft pick into the next Mike Richards or something. But Chiarelli knows how close his team is to winning a second Cup in three years. Just a few goals might be the difference, and there’s no doubt Jagr can produce those both with his stick and his presence. Just having a player like Jagr in the lineup changes opponents’ game plans and opens up opportunities for other players, whether he’s skating on their line or not.
Even if the Bruins lose in the first round of the playoffs, this deal is a win because prices were allegedly high and Chiarelli was able to address a major need at a reasonable price. Chiarelli didn’t touch any of his handful of blue-chip prospects and brought in a guy who boasts talents the Bruins lack as far as creativity and puck-protecting.
Once again, Chiarelli has proven this is a different era in Bruins hockey from the one he replaced.