Amato takes a look at 41-year-old Jaromir Jagr’s strong season
When Jaromir Jagr signed with the Dallas Stars last summer it probably raised quite a few eyebrows. The Stars haven't made the playoffs since the 2007-08 season, and if they aren't in a full rebuild mode with their roster, they are certainly retooling. You wouldn't think that would be the ideal destination for a veteran player trying to end his career on a high note. Then again, Jagr has been anything but conventional during his playing days and has always marched to the beat of his own drum. Taking a three-year hiatus to play in the KHL was clearly evidence of that.
Jagr returned to the NHL last year with the Philadelphia Flyers, and if nothing else, proved he could still play. In 2013 with the Stars he has proven he can do more than just that. Jagr, who just picked up assist number 1,000 last week, currently leads Dallas in goals, points, power play goals, and shots. He is also on a 65 point pace if this were an 82-game season, which would far exceed his totals from last year. Did I mention he is 41 years old?
Even though he has changed teams, Dallas has done a good job of putting Jagr in a similar position when it comes to line-mates. In 2011-12 Jagr played most often with Claude Giroux and Scott Hartnell, while this season it has been Jamie Benn and Brenden Morrow. Although no two players are exactly alike, there are similarities between each grouping. Both Benn and Giroux are very creative and have elite skill sets, while Morrow and Hartnell are physical players who can retrieve the puck and take up real estate in front of the net. Having one person on your line that can get you the puck in a scoring position and another who can occupy defenders is a great compliment to anyone's game, especially someone as skilled as Jagr.
Morrow has now been traded to Pittsburgh and it remains to be seen how that will alter Jagr's numbers, but the good news is Benn is still around. The two have built a great chemistry in their brief time together in Dallas, and they have combined to find the score sheet 17 times in 2013. In fact, Benn leads the Stars with 12 primary assists and had just 15 all of last season. No doubt playing with Jagr and his 14 goals are a major reason for the upswing in that area.
Jagr's presence has also helped the Stars as a whole this season. In 2011-12 Dallas had the league's worst power play, but this year with Jagr's six power play goals he has them up to a ranking of 12th. It's nothing to brag about, but it's still a significant improvement from last year. Jagr only had eight goals with the man advantage all of last season, and to put in perspective just what he means to the Stars in that area, nobody else on Dallas currently has more than three power play goals.