It's a question that Dallas Stars General Manager Joe Nieuwendyk is probably getting tired of answering. "How much does player x have left in the tank?"
First the Stars signed Ray Whitney, who turns 41 this season. Then traded for Derek Roy coming off multiple injuries that changed his game significantly last season. Now with the signing of Jaromir Jagr he faced it for the third time in three days.
"Well, I don't think there's any question he still has anything left in the tank," said Nieuwendyk. "He had a terrific season last year with Philadelphia. He's still a world class player and for us to be able to bring a guy like that to our franchise that's a big deal."
That terrific season was 19 goals and 54 points in all in 73 games with the Philadelphia Flyers in 2011-2012.
The Dallas Stars continue to reinvent themselves on the fly this off-season with two things in mind: Short contracts with veteran point producers that make the team competitive and offensively capable next season, and the flexibility those short contracts give them to bring up prospects from Cedar Park that are very nearly ready to contribute - Be it in mid-season or in 2013-2014.
The signing of these older players, believe it or not, is facilitating the youth movement that's in the works the season after next, currently brewing with the Texas Stars.
In the mean time, the Stars figure to have a salty top-six with Jamie Benn, Loui Eriksson, Jagr, Derek Roy, Ray Whitney and Michael Ryder - With Brenden Morrow, Tomas Vincour, Matt Fraser and more waiting in the wings if they're needed.
Joe Nieuwednyk told ESPN's Pierre LeBrun he was mulling over Eriksson with Benn and Jagr on his top line.
Pretty interesting, eh? And the power play will get a jolt with all of these new bodies. Assemble your NHL '12 rosters and read on...
Much more after the jump...
The move was unexpected and seemed to have come out of nowhere, particularly in light of the fact that Jagr has never played outside of the Northeast before.
"He made mention of the fact that he has never played in the western conference," Nieuwendyk told media this evening, "and so we talked a little bit about the style of play in the west versus the east. I think it was intriguing to him, he's a guy that's up for challenges. He's done so much in his career that I think he viewed this as a challenge. He's such a knowledgeable guy on players around the league, that he was really intrigued by the players that we have here. The trade that we made recently for Derek Roy bringing in a center-men of his caliber, the possibility of playing alongside Jamie Benn and Loui Eriksson. I think he really enjoyed his experience last year in playing with the youngster of a star in Claude Giroux in Philadelphia. I would suspect he views this as a same type of situation here where he could really help move along a young kids' careers in Jamie Benn and Loui Eriksson."
Jagr was lauded as a positive influence in the locker room last season with Philadelphia, and raved about Giroux as much as Giroux raved about Jagr. The elder helped the younger to a career high 93 points playing on a line with Scott Hartnell. That trio was given pretty advatageous zone starts and power play time. It's up to Glen Gulutzan to utilize his new tools in a similar fashion to unleash Benn with Jagr and Loui Eriksson, or Michael Ryder.
Scott Burnside with ESPN warns, however, that Jaromir wore down noticeably as the season went on last year...
"And in the end, Jagr proved to be both a valuable player and a well-loved teammate in Philadelphia.
He also proved that regardless of diet and workout routines, time waits for no man and it did not wait for the 40-year-old as he started to wear down as the season went along. By the time the playoffs rolled around, Jagr was hardly a factor, especially in the second round when the Flyers dropped four straight games to the eventual Eastern Conference champion New Jersey Devils.
During that second-round series, Jagr had just one assist. Overall he had one goal and seven assists in 11 playoff games. During his last 16 regular season games, he managed to score just once." [ESPN]
This is an issue facing Dallas with risks in an old Ray Whitney, Jaromir Jagr, and a potentially changed player in Derek Roy after his injuries. It's also a part of the perceived plan. If a mid-season call-up or two (or three) is necessary then the Stars will be prepared to do that, and these short term contracts won't be a problem moving forward. They've allowed themselves the flexibility to succeed with the roster assembled in the last several days, or to change on the fly and start preparing themselves for the season after, which is starting to feel like the real main event.
It's all been made possible by Tom Gaglardi and the ability to spend some dough.
"These are moves that obviously we wouldn't have been able to make had we not had solid ownership in place," said Nieuwendyk. "Tom has come in here and moved the clouds away from our franchise and has put us back on the map. And I think the moves we've been able to make the last few days are an indication that we are back as a real relevant franchise and we feel extremely pleased with what's transpired."
While many in Dallas and parts beyond are happy about the point producing potential the Stars now possess in their forward grouping there is another contingent that looks at the defense and wonders what they plan to do about that with this renewed vigor (and spending) they've shown the last three days.
On that front Joe Nieuwednyk seems to indicate that what the Stars have is what the Stars have.
"I think I'm going to the lake next week and turning my phone off," Nieuwendyk said. "I think we're pretty much done now, guys. The great thing is we have a lot of young fresh young guys coming in."
He wasn't speaking about the defense specifically there, and he did say "pretty much", but there sounded like a finality to it, so we'll have to see if anyone calls him back about conversations that may have already been had this week (Robidas, Morrow are popular targets of speculation) but it sounds as if they'll take a breather now that the 4th of July is here.
At this hour that seems to say that Brenden Dillon will have an opportunity to grab a role here and compete for the six spot with Mark Fistric, even. Other younger guys will have a harder time breaking into the forward group as the Stars now have 12 NHL quality forwards signed or under RFA rights.
Speaking of younger guys, Tomas Vincour and Radek Faksa, being countrymen with Jagr, likely will experience the thrill of a lifetime in training camp with him.
"We just saw our first round draft choice Radek Faksa," said Niewuendyk of Faksa, who just arrived in Dallas today, "and he idolized Jaromir Jagr all throughout his life and it's been a lot of fun here."
**Thanks to Taylor Baird for transcribing the quotes.