The Pittsburgh Penguins have been winning … a lot.
However, Pens’ fans have seen this movie before. The team dominates during the regular-season, but fails to show up when the playoffs roll around.
Place blame on whatever you choose to, but losing is losing, and Pittsburgh shouldn’t be. While it’s a common theme that goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury melts down in the postseason, their lack of scoring during the 2013 Eastern Conference Finals was mainly the cause of their latest ousting.
That, and the fact Fleury rarely played in the ECF due to Tomas Vokoun’s performance.
Does anyone remember how well the team played when they won the cup in 2009? Or better question, anybody recall who was playing alongside Sidney Crosby? It was a whiley veteran by the name of Bill Guerin. He probably wasn’t the first-choice Pittsburgh had, but he proved to be the best one.
Which is partially why the team should pursue New Jersey Devils‘ forward Jaromir Jagr.
Jagr, who’s presumably close to retiring – even though he could definitely still play for a few more seasons – would be an ideal match as Crosby’s right-winger. On top of that, having Jagr finish out his career with Pittsburgh is probably what most Pens’ fans long-for, and want to see happen.
Even though Jagr has spurned Pittsburgh over recent years – specifically by signing on with the Philadelphia Flyers in 2011 – he’s still a player that can make an impact. Although New Jersey arguably wants to keep him for a playoff push, they know that he will be an unrestricted free agent following the season.
While he’s currently their best player, understandably, they have to think in future terms. Defenseman Marek Zidlicky, who’s their best blueliner, in my eyes at least, will be a free agent as well this summer. And defensemen is something Pittsburgh has a lot of. Especially young d-men at that too.
New Jersey doesn’t have the luxury of cap-room, even when the season is over and they lose some players to free agency. So are they really going to re-sign Jagr?
Yes, I get it, he’s the staple in their offense right now and gives them hope for a postseason berth – where they currently are one point out of. But the fact remains that Pittsburgh is without a right-winger for Crosby, and the Devils’ future circumstances revolving around Jagr are inevitably irrelevant.
Jagr’s value is also as-high-as ever right now. You know how much they can bank off a guy who’s 41-years-old? I’m not saying Pens’ general manager Ray Shero is going to unload for him, but he’s more than likely fixin’ to surrender some young talent. Say, defenseman Simon Despres, who’s leading Wilkes-Barre/Scranton with a plus-19 rating, and has four points (3G, 1A) in the last three games.
Of course, the team could also do a straight up deal for defenseman Matt Niskanen, but it’s hard to deal him with the way he’s playing and I’m not so sure New Jersey would want that type of trade. So to me, Despres, whose been said to have pouted when he was a healthy scratch a few times this season, is you’re best bet to be the main piece.
Crosby is a playmaker, and that’s why forward Chris Kunitz has emerged – because Crosby sets Kunitz up on most occasions. Jagr is a big, stocky, scorer. And if you’re thinking age, accompanied with how fast the Pens’ play is going to somehow hinder his ability to keep-up, take another look at Guerin. He was almost the same body-type Jagr is, and not nearly the scorer.
There’s enough motivation to go-out and grab Jagr. It’s just going to come down to what New Jersey wants in return.
Jagr is tied for 16th in NHL in scoring with 39 points (15G, 24A), and tied for 11th with a tremendous plus-16 rating – it’s time to make a move Shero.