Well, color me surprised. Who saw this one coming?
On the first day of free agency, with many names and many veterans available for the Flyers to fill their forward lines with, they opted to go with the ultimate veteran. In fact, they went with one who was not even in the National Hockey League last year.
Yes, the Philadelphia Flyers have signed Jaromir Jagr. Forgive me for believing I would never be able to say or write that line. The former Pittsburgh Penguin and New York Ranger, a longtime target of hatred from Philadelphia fans, is now a member of the Orange and Black.
And, at the age of 39, he will become the oldest player on the Philadelphia roster. But, is this signing all that surprising after all?
The team will not re-sign Ville Leino after the news of this deal for Jagr, which is rumored to be in the range of one year and $3.3 million, as reported by CBSPhilly.com. Can they be blamed?
Jagr, at one year and $3.3 million, is much more attractive than Leino was at four years (or so) and a rate of $4 million. Simply put, Jagr has a long track record and the Flyers are not committing themselves in the long term to him. They would have had to commit to a long-term deal with Leino—who will now have to find a job elsewhere.
People will say that it has always been about the money for Jagr. From the looks of things, that appears to be true.
So, what should we expect from a man who has not been in the league since the 2007-2008 season?
Well, he has been just about a point-per-game kind of player in the Kontinental Hockey League in Russia over the last three seasons while playing for Omsk.
The Flyers know that he is not the best skater anymore, but they needed somebody who has talented hands to play on a top line. He fills the void left by Leino quite nicely. If he puts up a 20-goal, 30-assist season, it would be more than enough for the Flyers to say that things worked out.
You also can't help but note that Jagr will play the Penguins six times in 2011-2012, including three trips to Pittsburgh that will gather plenty of attention. If anything, it will be quite interesting to see the reactions that Penguin fans give Jagr, along with the reactions of Ranger fans in his return to New York.
The bad news for the Flyers is that their best line of the last few seasons of Scott Hartnell, Danny Briere and Ville Leino is now broken up.
The potential good news?
They just got a future Hall of Famer to play with Hartnell and Briere on that line.
Later on in the day, the team added another former Penguin, Maxime Talbot, on a five-year contract worth $9 million.
As of now, the Flyers' forward combinations would stand to look something like this:
Newly acquired Brayden Schenn will have to compete for a job in training camp, a job that will be tougher to come by now that the team has signed Jagr and Talbot.
The fourth line, as of now, would appear to be up for grabs, so it is hard to prognosticate who could be on the final set of forwards. For now, though, the Flyers would appear to have nine forwards in place to play on their top three lines.
Flyers fans will have to get used to rooting for a player that they have stood to hate for many years. Even if it is only for one year, we can put away our hatred and root for him.
But only if he brings the mullet along for the ride.