Tag: Jaromir Jagr

Florida Panthers v New Jersey Devils

Looking to make the leap: Reid Boucher

However you might feel about the New Jersey Devils’ 2013-14 campaign, there’s no denying that the team needs to score more goals and generally create more chances.

For the most part, the Devils seem like they’re counting on veteran players to produce. They’re hoping for more good things from the likes of Jaromir Jagr and Patrik Elias along with ideal outputs from additions Mike Cammalleri and Martin Havlat.

That said, hockey’s usually a young man’s game, so the Devils might at least want to ponder giving a key prospect like Reid Boucher a whirl.

Boucher, 20, turned heads in particular during his outstanding 2012-13 season with the OHL’s Sarnia Sting. He managed a 62-goal, 95-point season in 68 contests after only managing 50 in 67 the previous season. His AHL numbers were promising enough in 2013-14, as well, generating an impressive 22 goals and 38 points in 56 contests with the Albany Devils. Boucher even got his feet wet at the NHL level, collecting seven points in 23 games with Devils.

An early August NHL.com story implies that Devils head coach Peter DoBoer thinks he has a shot, at least if he emulates a former Devils forward.

“I’m looking for [Boucher] to come into [training camp] and be in good shape,” DeBoer said. “He’s a veteran and I’m looking for some leadership. He needs to have a workmanlike mentality. Whether he’s playing on a first line or fourth line, he has to bring that workmanlike mentality. I told him that the beauty about Zach Parise was that he was a first-line player with a fourth-line work ethic. I think Reid can take some notes from that.”

All of that said, doing so might mean making some waves. Cap Geek lists 14 forwards under contract in New Jersey, and that’s without counting Boucher or fellow up-and-coming prospect Stefan Matteau.

With everything in mind, the difference between becoming a full-time roster player and another season flipping between the AHL and NHL might come down to how Boucher performs in training camp (and early regular season games if he impresses in September).

Will Jagr finally show his age next season?

New York Islanders v New Jersey Devils

During his prime years, Jaromir Jagr was often a polarizing figure, but at 42, he’s essentially in his “Teemu Forever” stage of being widely beloved.

Of course, he’ll turn 43 during his second season as a member of the New Jersey Devils, so the question must be uttered once again: will this finally be the year that he looks like an old man?

No signs of slowing down

His work in the 2013-14 season defies logic. While some bounces likely went his way, it’s not like he scored 24 goals and 67 points by accident. His shooting percentage was a modest 10.4, which only looks imposing compared to his bizarre playoff run with the Boston Bruins (zero goals on 58 shots in 22 games in the 2013 postseason).

The thing that might be most surprising is that he was stunningly dominant in possession stats, something that aging players rarely accomplish (Jarome Iginla was a nice asset for Boston last season, yet the underlying numbers argue that he was at least slightly propped up by Milan Lucic and David Krejci).

Devils blog In Lou We Trust captured his fanciful stats from last season while tabbing him as the clear team MVP:

Oh, what would this team be without Jaromir Jagr this season? He’s the team’s leader in points with 24 goals and 43 assists. He’s the team’s leader in shots on net with 231. He’s the team’s leader in both Corsi For% and relative Corsi For% in 5-on-5 play at 59.2% (!) and +7.1% (!!) among regulars per Extra Skater. The latter is important to note because being present for shooting attempts and generating them means that when he’s on the ice, the play is going forward. Even by the eye test, #68 has constantly picked on defensemen and forwards along the boards, in the corners, and even in open ice. The remarkable thing isn’t that he’s done all this at the age of 42. It’s that he’s done all this and made skeptics like me not only look foolish but seriously feel that bringing him back may be a good idea.

The fall can be dramatic

Jagr is a noted fitness buff, yet sports history is stacked with players who saw dramatic drops in a single season. Even gracefully aging icon Teemu Selanne dropped to healthy scratch status during the Anaheim Ducks’ turbulent 2014 postseason and that’s a rather mild example of how jarring the fall to mediocrity recall can be.

If motivation is a factor, the Devils must hope that Jagr really cares about milestones, then:

All-time points leaders:

4. Ron Francis – 1,798
5. Marcel Dionne – 1,771
6 tied. Jagr – 1,755 and Steve Yzerman 1,755

All-time goals leaders:

3. Brett Hull – 741
4. Dionne – 731
5. Phil Esposito – 717
6. Mike Gartner – 708
7. Jagr – 705

Even a limited-but-healthy Jagr could probably finish 2014-15 in the top five in both categories, but if he really wants to stick around for a while, why not flirt with fourth?


Ultimately, it’s been a great run for Jagr, and he doesn’t seem interested in ending it anytime soon. NHL teams have little reason to pull the plug, either … at least so far.

It’s New Jersey Devils day on PHT

Adam Henrique, Ryane Clowe, Michael Ryder

It’s debatable that the New Jersey Devils were a normal shootout record away from making the playoffs in 2013-14, but the bottom line is that they were pretty close.

With a 35-29-18 record (including a stunning 0-12 mark in the shootout), the Devils finished with 88 standings points, leaving them tied for 10th in the East (although they would have taken the tiebreaker from Ottawa if that mattered). The Devils finished five points behind the Columbus Blue Jackets and Detroit Red Wings for wild card spots.

That’s not to say that the Devils were a great team with awful luck. Instead, it might be better to describe them as a one-dimensional team that lacked the goaltending needed to make their defensive strengths pay off. New Jersey tied Calgary for the third-fewest shots per game (26.8) while limiting opponents to an NHL-low 25.5 per contest, so chances rarely happened for either side during their games.

While that doesn’t exactly sound fun, it could prove to be an effective formula if Cory Schneider backs up that mammoth extension he received this offseason and the team improves on offense.

It’s tough to imagine Jaromir Jagr replicating his astounding work from 2013-14, but the Devils are likely banking on improvements from within (maybe at least a sign of life from Ryane Clowe?) and nice outputs from Mike Cammalleri and injury-ravaged former star Martin Havlat. There are quite a few ifs at work for the offense – example: will Adam Henrique make another step in the right direction? – but it’s conceivable that things might be a little better next season.

Unfortunately, their defense doesn’t look as stout now that sorely underrated defenseman Mark Fayne is a member of the Edmonton Oilers. The Devils tend to make the most of their defensive groups, so don’t be surprised if they’re still stingy.

In broader terms, the Devils seem like they’ll make their living being “pesky,” at least if Schneider can carry a workload that will conjure up comparisons to departed icon Martin Brodeur. Much has been – fairly – made about the struggles Brodeur faced the last few seasons, yet if things don’t go well, the pressure could really start to wear on Schneider.

(Some might even call it a “be careful what you wish for” moment for a guy who’s faced a lot of roadblocks to becoming the No. 1 goalie.)

This team seems just as likely to be a bubble team as it could be a cellar dweller, but here’s one near-certainty: the Devils will probably have a better shootout record in 2014-15.

Fanspeak: Lemieux (stunner!) voted greatest Penguin in franchise history

Mario Lemieux

This summer, NBC Sports’ social media team is conducting the #NHLGreatest initiative, designed for fans to choose the best player in each franchise’s history. Balloting was conducted through three platforms — Facebook, Twitter and Instagram — with thousands of votes being cast. The results of this initiative will be released throughout the month of August, in conjunction with PHT’s Team of the Day series.

Pittsburgh Penguins

1. Mario Lemieux (2,726)

2. Sidney Crosby (588)

3. Jaromir Jagr (393)

4. Evgeni Malkin (129)

5. Ron Francis (96)

There’s really not much to say here as No. 66 is easily the greatest and most important individual in franchise history, as evident by the voting totals. In fact, his body of work both as a player and owner goes beyond the Penguins organization — in terms of cultural sporting icons in Pittsburgh, Lemieux is on par with the likes of Roberto Clemente, Willie Stargell, Joe Greene and Terry Bradshaw.

So, let’s examine the rest of this list.

Crosby likely bested Jagr for three reasons: 1) he resonates more with a younger audience, 2) Jagr was (unfairly or not) constantly viewed as Lemieux’s sidekick, and 3) No. 68 burned a few bridges upon his return to the NHL in 2011, spurning a reunion with the Penguins to sign in Philadelphia.

That said, it’s tough to overlook all Jagr accomplished during his 11 seasons in Pittsburgh: two Stanley Cups, five Art Ross Trophies, one Hart Trophy and one of just two players to score 1,000 points in a Penguins uniform (Lemieux was the other).

As for players outside the top five…

— Jean Pronovost still sits third behind Lemieux and Jagr in games played (753) and goals (316)

— Hall-of-Fame defensemen Paul Coffey and Larry Murphy both played in Pittsburgh, though only for five seasons each.

Cammalleri excited to join Devils, possibly line up with Jagr

Calgary Flames v Toronto Maple Leafs

As great as Mike Cammalleri and the New Jersey Devils have been respectively in the past, their agreement seemed at least a little bit like a case of lowered expectations.

Both sides seemed awfully excited about the proposition while discussing that five-year, $25 million deal with the Hockey News. From the sound of things, GM Lou Lamoriello has been eye-balling the scorer since his NCAA days.

“He played with an edge and had results,” Lamoriello said. “He’s very diligent and he competes. When you see that in a player, it naturally sticks out. When we were looking at the potential free agencies and the type of player we needed, we felt we needed a scorer. Mike stood right out, and he was one of the top players we looked at, if not the top player.”

(Cammalleri said all the right things about digging the way the Devils do business, too.)

While many believed that goaltending has been holding the Devils back – particularly Martin Brodeur’s loudest detractors – they haven’t exactly been creating a ton of scoring chances. To put things most simply, the Devils tied Cammalleri’s former team the Calgary Flames for third-worst in the NHL with an average of just 26.8 shots per game.

Will Cammalleri turn that around by himself? Of course not, but he’s the kind of trigger-happy player the Devils could use; he didn’t just score 26 goals last season, he also fired more than three shots on net per contest (191 in 63 games played).

That injection of offense actually presents the Devils with an interesting question: will they line him up with Jaromir Jagr or try to spread the wealth? One gets the feeling Cammalleri would love to play alongside No. 68.

“He’s one of the greatest legends of our game of all-time,” Cammalleri said. “He’s an iconic sports figure. To play on the same team as him will be a unique and special experience.”

Either way, he sounds happy to be in New Jersey.