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Tuesday, April 2, 2013
Debate: Is Jagr a good fit for the Bruins?

By Scott Burnside and Joe McDonald

What will Jaromir Jagr do for the Boston Bruins? ESPN.com's Scott Burnside and ESPNBoston.com's Joe McDonald debate the finer points.

BURNSIDE: Well, Joe, you and I chatted in this forum last week after Jarome Iginla made his last-second decision to eschew the Boston Bruins and orchestrate his trade from Calgary to the Pittsburgh Penguins. We talked at the time about how GM Peter Chiarelli would move on and continue to search for ways to ready his team for what he hopes will be a long playoff run. Tuesday he made a significant move by bringing in five-time scoring champ Jaromir Jagr from the Dallas Stars for a conditional second-round draft pick -- which becomes a first-round pick if the Bruins win two rounds this spring -- and two prospects, winger Cody Payne, who was the 145th overall pick in last June’s draft, and Lane MacDermid, also a winger and the 112th overall pick in 2009. Now, comparing Jagr to Iginla is a little like comparing pucks to tennis balls: They’re made of very different stuff. But what do you make of the Czech legend’s acquisition? I know he was much beloved in the Philadelphia locker room a year ago and there’s no question his absence has been a factor in the Flyers’ disappointing season. And he was a big hit with the Stars for the brief time he was there. How do you see him fitting in the B's?

McDONALD: Scotty, I have heard that Jagr's reputation behind closed doors has improved the past few years, but I'm still a little wary about how he'll fit into Boston's room at this point. After all, he's no Mark Recchi. Speaking of Rex, since he's currently working for the Dallas Stars, maybe he had some words of advice for the newest member of the Bruins in that aspect. Bruins forward David Krejci told me this morning that he admitted to having Jagr's poster on his wall as a young kid in the Czech Republic, calling him his "hockey idol," so maybe the veteran forward could make a seamless transition in Boston. On the ice, I can see Bruins coach Claude Julien putting Jagr on the third line along with Rich Peverley and Jordan Caron until Chris Kelly (broken left tibia) is ready to return. As far as Boston's power play, Jagr's presence will be a major help. The Bruins have scored a total of only 14 power-play goals this season, while Jagr recorded six on the PP for Dallas. The other thing here, Scotty, you have to give Chiarelli credit for quickly pulling the trigger on this deal after Iginla chose the other team that wears black and gold.

BURNSIDE: I agree that on first blush Jagr might not be your prototypical Bruin forward, but I thought the same when he signed with Philadelphia after leading the Penguins to the altar at the outset of the free-agency period in the summer of 2011. The one thing, having covered the Flyers in the first two rounds of the playoffs last spring, is that by then Jagr was broken down and not particularly effective. He had one assist in the Flyers’ five-game loss to New Jersey in the second round. Now, in a short season, that shouldn’t be as much an issue for either Jagr or the Bruins. You mentioned your thoughts on where he might fit in with the Bruins, and I think one of the benefits, as it might have been had Iginla become a Bruin, is that you can move him up and down the lineup. But Jagr is not Iginla nor Brenden Morrow in that he’s not going to give you those dirty minutes in the corner or kill penalties. So does this suggest to you that Chiarelli isn’t done yet? It doesn’t look like Ryane Clowe is on the Bruins’ radar right now, but is there someone out there who might fill that need for a forward with some more sand?

McDONALD: The other thing I'll say about Jagr, based on the lockout-shortened season, he will be motivated for his duration with the Bruins. I agree he could handle playing on any of Boston's top three lines, and it could be fun to watch him play with fellow Czech Krejci, but given Jagr's age, and not knowing how much he has remaining in the tank, let Peverley do the dirty work. And, no, I don't think Chiarelli is done. We all know he's in search of help on the back end, but adding a player such as Clowe is still in the mix. I'm still interested in a player such as the Islanders' Brad Boyes, too. With Jagr likely on the Bruins' top power-play unit, having Boyes on the second unit would be a big help, too. While I'm not completely sold on the addition of Jagr, I do see the Bruins being able to make a deep run in the playoffs, which means we'll be working together more very soon.

BURNSIDE: Hard to imagine the New York Islanders would trade Brad Boyes given how close they are to the postseason, and especially given that the two teams could actually meet in the first round. But I agree, Joe; I don’t think Chiarelli is done. But here’s the question I think many people will be pondering after the dust settles Wednesday afternoon: Have the Bruins or anyone in the East done enough to close the gap on the Penguins? If the Penguins get healthy by the postseason, can the Bruins stay close? And more to the point, does Jagr balance the spreadsheet with Iginla or no? One thing I’m looking forward to is that tilt in Boston on April 19. Save me a seat in the press box.

McDONALD: Oh, Scotty, that gap (at least in the Bruins' mind) closed when Iginla picked Pittsburgh over Boston. Sure, all the Bruins players said all the right things publicly, but you can be sure they've circled April 19 on their calendar for when they host the Penguins at the Garden. It's actually a toss-up as to who's hated more right now: Iginla in Boston or Jagr in Pittsburgh? While Jagr's addition is not the answer this season, his presence will help Boston and I just hope these teams meet in the playoffs because it would be a dramatic series. Bostonians would rather see you here, Scotty, than Mr. Jagr but it's going to be interesting.