Is Jaromir Jagr finished? Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren sure hopes not.
When Jagr returned from the KHL and put himself up for bidding, Holmgren placed a surprisingly large bet on him. This yesteryear NHL star opened camp on a line with winger James van Riemsdyk and center Claude Giroux.
“I think if he can get anywhere between 45 and 65 points, that's a pretty productive year,” Holmgren told NHL.com. “Your better players are 75 to 85 points, and we're not seeing 100 point scorers anymore. Claude led us last year (with 76 points). Jaromir still skates well. He's never been the fastest guy, but he can keep up and has great hands and vision.”
Jagr, 39, looked somewhat less than dynamic when last we saw him in the NHL. But he shrugs off the skepticism his signing generated.
“There's a lot of people wondering if I can still play and that's fine with me,” he told reporters. "I'm not 21. I'm not trying to prove something with my words. I can promise you one thing . . . I'm going to give it my best shot to play on a high level. I'm 39 now, but I didn't come here just for one year to impress myself. I'm not saying I'm going to dominate or saying I'm going to play good, but I can promise you I'm going to do all the right things to play.”
Here some other notable newcomers adjusting to their new teams:
Mike Richards, C, Kings: He gives LA a second No. 1-caliber center, joining Anze Kopitar as one of the team’s cornerstones up front. Nobody would be surprised if he hooked up with oft-injured Simon Gagne, a speedy winger he flourished with in Philadelphia.
Jeff Carter, C, Blue Jackets: Brad Richards might have been a better fit up the middle for Columbus, but this offensively challenged team welcomes another pure scorer. Carter has scored 181 career goals in 461 games. But he was none too happy about his trade to central Ohio and many experts wonder how well he will click with power forward Rick Nash.
Dany Heatley, W, Wild: He brings a 100-point pedigree to a team starved for more goals. But he scored just 26 times with elite playmaker Joe Thornton last season. The Wild doesn’t have anybody like Jumbo Joe. And with power-play hammer Brett Burns off to San Jose, how dangerous will the Wild be with the extra man?
Tomas Vokoun, GT, Capitals: He flirted with the Panthers all season but never signed an extension. Then the free agent marketplace proved cruel to him, forcing him to sign a one-year, $1.5 million deal with the Capitals. The good news: He could be the missing piece for a team with Stanley Cup aspirations.
Ville Leino, C-W, Sabres: Where will Buffalo fit him in its deep offense? To start out, coach Lindy Ruff placed him a center between Tyler Ennis and Drew Stafford. “I think they are all good players. Both can score and make plays,” Leino told reporters. “Once we get clicking, we'll have a lot of fun. I felt good skating in the middle. For me, it's easier. It comes more natural.”
Joe Corvo, D, Bruins: When healthy, he puts up numbers. He scored 78 points combined in his last two full seasons. “Over the years you learn how to calm down and you learn just how to repeat the things that you do,” Corvo told reporters. “And you'd be surprised that it takes less energy to do more, so . . . that's just something I try to do. I try to just relax and just keep things simple. As long as I tell myself to just slow down and try to do less, then things tend to work out.”
Brian Campbell, D, Panthers: This elite puck-moving defenseman regressed in Chicago -- scoring 52, 38 and 27 points the last three seasons -- so the Blackhawks cheerfully offloaded him and his big contract on Florida. Florida GM Dale Tallon hopes he can regain his 50-point form while quarterbacking his power play.
Christian Ehrhoff, D, Sabres: He scored less than half his points at even strength during his previous two seasons. The Canucks had an awesome power play. Will Ehrhoff make sure Buffalo has a great unit during the 10 years of his stunning contract?
Thomas Kaberle, D, Hurricanes: He wasn’t the offensive juggernaut Boston hoped after arriving from Toronto, so the Bruins let him walk to Carolina as a free agent. Kaberle and venerable puck mover Joni Pitkanen will run the Hurricanes power play.