It was hard not to be optimistic when the Panthers traded for Jaromir Jagr back near the 2015 NHL Trade Deadline, as the old Czech is a living legend, coming in at 6th all-time in assists, 5th all-time in goals, and 4th all-time in total points.
He made his presence known immediately, and his stellar performance at the end of the season left fans salivating at the though of a whole season of Jagr on the Panthers.
Jaromir Jagr is an incredibly smart hockey player, who has elite vision, skill, and hands. When given time and space, he is more than capable of threading a pass to an open teammate, who is then able to create offense with the puck. Watching the 43-year-old work with Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau was a treat, as the two youngsters were able to get the puck to Jagr, get open for him, and then get the puck right back. They weaved through the neutral zone, and created a good number of chances by entering the zone with control of the puck, and numbers.
Barkov gets the puck to Aaron Ekblad, who feeds it to Jagr. Jagr waits for Huberdeau to move into position, then slides the puck to him. Huberdeau spins, and centers it to a now-wide-open Barkov, who roofs it on Carey Price. Tic, tac, toe.
The big-bodied winger also excels at regrouping in the neutral zone. On more than one occasion, instead of forcing the puck forward, he turned back around, and gained speed before attacking again.
I think it's best to let Jagr describe his skill set in the offensive zone.
I know where's my strength. I like to play offensive zone on the boards. I still feel like I'm strong enough to beat anybody, at least hold that puck. If it's true or not, I still believe in it. Maybe I'm not going to beat that guy one-on-one like I used to, but I can still make a play from that corner from the cycle. That's my strength. And in the playoffs that's the way you play. - Article done by Dan Rosen for NHL.com
This is Jagr's bread and butter. While in the offensive zone, he's able to spin off of defenders when he has the puck, and can be incredibly elusive without the puck.
In this GIF, he controls the puck all the way around the net, and brings it out in front in order to create a scoring chance. When Barkov gets the puck behind the net, Jagr slides away from his defenseman, gets open in the slot, and one-times the puck into the back of the net.
As for his weaknesses, Jagr isn't the fastest skater on the ice anymore, and isn't a defensive standout. That being said, there's no denying the skills he brings to the table, and those make him an incredibly valuable asset for the 2015-2016 season.
|Jaromir Jagr||52.7%||5.6%||53.1%||5.6%||9.90(FLA), 1.78(N.J)||1.8|
Jagr's possession metrics are pretty impressive, especially given the fact that the New Jersey Devils were a terrible SAT% team during the 2014-2015 season. It's clear that he helps his team get a more favorable share of the shot attempts while he's on the ice, and that though he isn't impressive defensively, the 43-year-old definitely doesn't slack off when he doesn't have the puck.
When we look back at our breakdown of the team's passing statistics, we see that Jagr was the clear leader on the team in almost every offensive category, though he did play in only 20 games.
Not only was he the best on the team, but his total shot attempt contribution (individual shot attempts + passes that lead to shot attempts) per 60 minutes of ice time was FOURTH in the league, out of skaters that had 200 minutes of ice time tracked. This type of data separates Jagr's time with the Panthers and time with the Devils, so it isn't a full season's worth of data, but this is still an impressive list to be on. (For more information on the passing statistics, please look here.)
Now that we've covered Huberdeau, Barkov, and Jagr, here are some thoughts on how good they can be together. (To see our Season in Review breakdowns on Huberdeau and Barkov, please click here, and here.)
Some of the more notable lines across the league (such as the Triplets for Tampa Bay, or the Marian Hossa,/Jonathan Toews/Brandon Saad line for Chicago) had a SAT% around 57% last season. When together, the Jagr/Barkov/Huberdeau line had a SAT% of 55.7%, meaning that they were incredibly close to being one of the high-end top lines in the NHL. If they can provide the Panthers with the same play in 2015-2016, they will tear up the league, and the team will have it's first true "top line" since the days of Stephen Weiss, Tomas Fleischmann, and Kris Versteeg.
Jaromir Jagr is old, but good. Watch out for him in 2015-2016.