Philadelphia Flyers' General Manager Paul Holmgren is slowly appearing to be a genius.
Amidst a flurry of roster-altering moves was the signing of Jaromir Jagr, a 39-year-old right winger who played his previous three seasons overseas in the KHL.
To prove he's worth the one-year, $3.3 million contract, Jagr will need to show he can still be productive.
During three preseason games, Jagr has already begun to silence critics with four goals and two assists in three games. Of the 10 goals Philadelphia has scored with Jagr in the lineup, he's recorded a point on six of them.
At the time of the signing, expectations of Jagr were quite skeptical due to his three-year absence from the NHL. A cautious prediction of his production fell between 30 to 40 points, whereas bold predictions put Jagr above 50 points.
Looking at what Jagr is showing this preseason, 50 points seems like a sure thing. He's led the Flyers in scoring since his first game.
Though Jagr is not playing against top-notch NHL players yet, he looks very solid along with potential line-mate Claude Giroux.
Giroux led the Flyers in scoring last season with 76 total points. He never had as much chemistry with any Flyer as he is showing with Jagr. Giroux's production will certainly increase if the two continue to make the type of plays they've shown are possible.
Giroux said of Jagr, "It’s been two games. Just the way he gets open, it’s pretty unbelievable. He moves the puck quick and it takes two seconds and he is open again. Any time you play with a guy like that its going to open up a lot of plays."
With help from Giroux, seeing Jagr as a 60+ point scorer doesn't seem anywhere near as ridiculous as it did at the time of his signing on July 1st.
Jagr's attitude fits that of a helpful teammate. Following his first game, he said "For myself… If I do bad, I do bad, but I don’t want to disappoint the guys who signed me here."
Jagr should have no difficulty doing that.
In the KHL, Jagr averaged 20 minutes of ice time per game. During his three preseason games, Jagr has averaged 16:20 of ice time. During the preseason, veterans play less as young players attempt to prove their worth. (Rookie Matt Read has averaged more than 20 minutes per game this preseason).
Jagr will play on the powerplay due to his offensive productivity. Since he is not particularly effective defensively, he will not be on the penalty kill.
Expect Jagr to play top-line minutes (16-18 per game) with Claude Giroux as a linemate. The left-winger may be Giroux's previous linemate, James van Riemsdyk.
The combination of offensive talent on that line will help Jagr score at least 25 goals.
Jagr's playmaking skills, combined with the ability of Giroux and van Riemsdyk to finish, will help Jagr to at least 35 assists.
The Flyers' highest profile moves this summer were the signing of Ilya Bryzgalov, the trading of Mike Richards and Jeff Carter.
Signing Jagr seemed like a minor move after these blockbusters, but No. 68's abilities are going to make headlines game after game.
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