After struggling during the 2012 season and missing the playoffs for the fourth consecutive year, the Dallas Stars signed 40-year-old veterans Jaromir Jagr and Ray Whitney to help improve their secondary scoring and power play.
While signing two 40-year-olds might seem unnerving to most, Dallas fans should be optimistic about the arrangement, as these veterans have proven time and time again that they are still very capable of playing skilled hockey.
Whitney signed a two-year, $9 million contract with Dallas after making it to the Western Conference finals in a very impressive season with the Phoenix Coyotes (24 G, 53 A, 77 PTS). Having just put up his best season yet, Whitney’s late-bloomer status could easily continue into his upcoming season in Dallas.
Jagr, who played his last season with the Philadelphia Flyers, signed a one-year, $4.5 million contract with the Dallas Stars after growing impatient with the Flyers’ hesitance to make a deal.
"They were waiting for (free agents Zach) Parise and (Ryan) Suter…I just didn't want to wait,” said Jagr (via USA Today). “Then all of a sudden, I got a call from (Stars general manager) Joe Nieuwendyk and I was very happy."
Despite a good but not great season in 2012 (19 G, 35 A, 54 PTS), Jagr is still a living legend and has the potential to play great hockey even at his age.
It is unlikely, though not impossible, to expect either of these two veterans to lead the Stars in points. However, both Whitney and Jagr are just the guys to provide the secondary scoring that Dallas desperately needs.
In the past season, Dallas had the worst power-play success rate in the league (13.5%). With Jagr and Whitney added to the mix of skilled Stars forwards Loui Eriksson, Jamie Benn and Michael Ryder, Dallas finally has five reliable forwards to play during special-team situations.
While the rest of the league had their eyes on the younger free agents, Dallas came into free agency under the radar and signed some very dangerous offensive players—giving themselves a chance for big, short-term success.