Most sports athlete their 40s are considered, old, a fossil, washed up. But unlike most players in their 40s, Jaromir Jagr is still a contributor even if he’s a 22-year veteran.
On Thursday, Jagr was traded from the New Jersey Devils to the Florida Panthers for a second-round draft pick in 2015 and a conditional third-round draft pick in 2016. Yes, he has been playing longer than the Panthers franchise has existed, but the Jagr trade is a good move for a team with playoff aspirations.
Florida is two points back of the Boston Bruins for the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. When Jagr arrives in Sunrise, Fla, he will find a mix of veterans and a young talent.
‘‘We want to win, ’general manager Dale Tallon said. ‘‘We want to win a championship and we’re putting the pieces together step by step and we’re hopeful that Jaromir can lead these young guys to the promised land. It’s a win-win for us.’’
Last summer, Tallon brought in Willie Mitchell and Shawn Thornton (both 37-years-old) to bring a veteran presence to a young Panthers team. Jagr is a two-time Stanley Cup Champion and has a ton of playoff experience, so that can only be viewed at as a positive for the Panthers.
To help reach the playoffs, the Panthers needed to add Jagr in attempts to give center Nick Bjugstad a much need boost. Bjugstad has been scoreless in his past five games and is minus-7 during that span
‘‘We’re headed in the right direction,’’ said Tallon.
While Jagr is no longer the 100 point scorer he was earlier in his career, he gives the Panthers a strong offensive option. In his finals days in New Jersey, Jagr was unhappy with his playing time as he went eight straight game without scoring a point, which is the longest draught of his career.
Florida has had trouble scoring all season. The team hopes adding Jagr will generate more scoring opportunities for the team in the zone.
Jagr had 11 goals and 18 assists in 57 games this season for the Devils. Tallon isn’t worried about Jagr lack of production in New Jersey.
‘‘Still outstanding,’’ Tallon said. ‘‘Great to watch.’’
In his 22 seasons with Pittsburgh, Washington, the Rangers, Philadelphia, Dallas, Boston and New Jersey, Jagr has scored 1,784 points and 716 goals in 1,530 career games. He also spent three years playing in Russia before heading back to the NHL in 2011.
Jagr is expected to join the Panthers on Friday and will play against the Buffalo Sabers on Saturday afternoon.
According to Tallon, around a half-dozen teams were looking to acquire Jagr before the trading deadline next week.
‘‘You’ve got to pay to get something special like this,’’ Tallon said. ‘‘And we were willing to do that.’’
Florida may not be done making moves before the March 2 trading deadline. Adding Jagr is a plus, but don’t be surprise if the team adds some defensive help before 3 p.m Eastern on Monday.
You can follow Antwan on Twitter @antwanstaley
Antwan Staley covers the Florida Panthers for NGSC Sports and The Examiner. He also covers the Miami Dolphins for Pro Player Insiders.