The New Jersey Devils continued to rebuild their offence this off-season, signing free agent forward Jaromir Jagr to a one-year, $2 million US deal on Tuesday.
New Jersey general manager Lou Lamoriello announced the pact on the team's official website. Jagr is coming off a one-year, $4.5-million contract.
And even though he's in the twilight stages of a prolific career, Lamoriello believes Jagr can still have an impact.
"I watched him play the last couple of years and I have never seen someone work so hard," Lamoriello said in a telephone interview with the Associated Press. "We know where he is in his career. He brings something. Everyone who has played with him the last couple of years and also the coaches have been complimentary toward everything he has done. There is no question he can help us on the power play.
"He is a well-conditioned athlete and we are happy with what he is going to bring."
The veteran winger said three or four teams were interested in signing him. However, he said he wasn't able to command as much attention or money as in past years because he is now 41 and many teams didn't have the money to spend.
"In my stage, because I love the game, I was looking for the team where I was going to have the opportunity to play," Jagr said in a conference call. "I was talking to Lou before [Ilya] Kovalchuk retired.
"And after he retired, I think it was even more important for me to play on the Devils."
The signing is likely good news for a squad that lost the likes of Kovalchuk — their second-leading scorer from last year — to retirement and subsequently the KHL, and witnessed the departure of gritty forward David Clarkson via free agency to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
'I wanted to stay in the NHL'
But Jagr said the thought of bolting North America to play overseas wasn't an option.
"There was only one thing on my mind, I wanted to stay in the NHL," Jagr said.
The Devils missed the playoffs last year and were 28th in goals for in what was a disappointing follow-up campaign to 2011-12, when they lost the Stanley Cup final to the Los Angeles Kings.
Jagr, 41, split last season between the Boston Bruins after being shipped over from the Dallas Stars. The five-time Art Ross Trophy winner scored 16 goals and 35 points in 45 games last campaign. He struggled to find his groove in the post-season, going goalless with 10 assists in 22 playoff games en route to the Stanley Cup final.
Originally selected fifth overall in the first round of the 1990 NHL Entry Draft, the Kladno, Czech Republic native has 681 goals and 1,688 points in 1,391 career regular-season games with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Washington Capitals, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, Stars and Bruins.
He'll join other forwards acquired via free agency Michael Ryder, Rostislav Olesz, and Ryane Clowe.
New Jersey also solidified its goaltending position with the acquisition of Cory Schneider at the NHL Draft from the Vancouver Canucks, and Lamoriello is confident in his group of players going forward.
"We like our team right now," Lamoriello said. "Certainly our goaltending is improved. Our defence is improved because of the experience of the young guys and up front we are going to be a four-line team. We have power-play people and penalty killers. This will be one of the bigger teams we've had in size."