Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Dallas Gets Interesting

He may look a little more gray, and he certainly is a little more grizzled, but did anyone expect Jaromir Jagr to throw the biggest curveball of free agency by signing in Dallas? Jagr inked a one-year, $4.55 million dollar deal, and Dallas suddenly begins to emerge as potential darkhorse for a Western Conference playoff spot. Jagr brings a solid work ethic, some deft hands that can still put points on the scoresheet, and can provide some veteran leadership to a relatively young squad. Having already added Ray Whitney and Derek Roy to improve their scoring, Jagr will be joining Jamie Benn, Loui Eriksson and Brenden Morrow to establish a fairly impressive top-six unit.

My only concern about Jagr joining the Stars is the amount of money they paid to get him. However, after being a seller for the last year as the team fought its way out of bankruptcy, this change of heart is nice to see from the Stars. Jagr can play either top-line minutes or second-line minutes with ease, and he will help the Stars score goals.

There may be concern over his production late in the season with Dallas, though. His play tailed off greatly towards the end of the season, and he may not hold up well in a more physical Western Conference. There were concerns about his groin last season, and playing in a division where there is lots of travel and some heavy hitters may wear down the 40 year-old quickly.

All of that aside, if Jagr can be durable enough to withstand the rigors of the Western Conference, this signing might be a great move. Jagr should help Jamie Benn and Loui Eriksson if he plays alongside them as the team is indicating. His vision and passing may push Loui Eriksson into a new goal-scoring high, and Benn's ceiling is limitless right now. Alongside Jagr, Benn's production should increase as Jagr can still pass and shoot like he did nearly fifteen years ago.

I'm not saying that Jagr will push the Stars into a playoff spot alone, though. He'll need help, but there's a good chance that Benn and Eriksson will benefit from having one of the game's best players on their right wing. Scott Hartnell and Claude Giroux enjoyed career seasons this past season, and they were always the first to credit Jagr with helping their games. Jagr can do the same in Dallas for their young, dynamic forwards.

Jagr is a good signing, albeit an expensive one. Dallas needed an infusion of scoring and leadership, and Jagr will certainly bring those aspects to the Stars' dressing room. As long as his body can withstand the punishment, Jagr should help the Stars challenge for a playoff spot. And that's more than what the prognosticators were saying at this time last season.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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