Jaromir Jagr decides to stay with Panthers, signs one-year deal
SUNRISE, Fla. -- Following Saturday's 3-2 victory over the New Jersey Devils in Florida's regular-season finale, a jubilant Jaromir Jagr told reporters that he and the Panthers were "very close" to striking deal.
Less than 24 hours later, the future Hall of Famer put pen to paper, signing a one-year deal with the Panthers on Sunday.
"It's great for this franchise to get a superstar of his ability," said Panthers General Manager Dale Tallon. "You can see how much the young guys look up to him [and] how the locker room respects him."
The Panthers acquired Jagr in a deadline deal with the Devils on Feb. 26 in exchange for 2015 second-round draft pick and a conditional 2016 third-round pick.
At 43 years old, Jagr was placed on Florida's top line alongside 19-year-old Aleksander Barkov and 21-year-old Jonathan Huberdeau. In 20 games with the Panthers, he recorded five goals and 16 points with a plus-7 rating.
"I'm thankful I had a chance to play the last 20 games here and give me a little bit of life," said Jagr, who finished the season with 17 goals and 47 points in 77 games split between New Jersey and Florida. "There were a lot of people that thought I was done and those young guys gave me extra energy, extra life.
"I'm glad I can continue to play."
Just as Florida's youth played a part in reinvigorating Jagr's career, the savvy veteran returned the favor by lighting a fire under the team's budding group of talented young forwards -- most notably Barkov and Huberdeau.
With Jagr in the lineup, Barkov registered seven goals and 15 points while Huberdeau recorded six goals and 21 points to finish the season with a team-leading 54 points.
"He's always a good guy and good player on the ice, but he's [also] a good guy off the ice," said Huberdeau. "He's going to tell you what you should do and when you make a good play he's going to tell you to get your confidence up. He's been a good buy for me and Barkov."
Last week, Jagr surpassed Ron Francis for fourth place on the NHL's all-time scoring list and enters the offseason with 722 goals and 1,802 points for his career.
In re-signing Jagr, the Panthers have not only locked up a bonafide legend of the game, but also added a marketable name to an organization still hoping to cultivate a sustainable hockey market in South Florida.
"This team's got a big future," Jagr said.