One the one hand, it seems like a move for pure PR, especially with the reported $4.2 million price tag, but it's not quite as crazy as it seems when you think about it.
- Veteran Experience - Even if he's not at his prime, Jagr still brings 20 seasons worth of NHL experience to the table, and his skills are still sharp enough to put up a 54 point season when he returned from the KHL. Used as a mentor, Jagr was credited with helping guys like Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, and Sean Couturier improve their games. With guys like Ryan Johansen and Cam Atkinson expected to shoulder a larger workload, having that kind of mentorship in the room would have been a good thing.
- Familiarity - Not just Craig Patrick's familiarity with his former #1 draft pick, but you'd think the Blue Jackets knew that the Rangers were, most likely, the destination for Rick Nash, and who might be coming back in return. Brandon Dubinsky's first full NHL season came with Jaromir Jagr as his captain in New York. Think they could pick a few things up? I bet they could have. Also consider that Vinny Prospal, already a leader for the club, has been playing with Jagr on the Czech Republic team in international competition for most of their careers. One would think that they'd be able to share a bit of chemistry.
- Boosting Talent - The addition of Jagr would have added at least 40 points up front to this club - probably more. He might not be a point a game player anymore, but he's still someone who adds value beyond simple name recognition. Having veterans who can add to the scoring and help to bring the kids along is the same logic that was used to bring Adrian Aucoin to the defense, and it makes sense on the forward lines as well. Oh, and there's the small matter of the all star game. Think Jagr would have instantly become a candidate for Columbus? Me, too.
- Low Risk - I generally don't like big money contracts to players over 35, but it's worth pointing out that this was a one year deal from a team that had money to spend. If things didn't work out or the club couldn't stay competitive, it's almost a given that Jagr could have been flipped to a contending club at the trade deadline, bringing back a decent return.
In the end, it didn't happen. Jagr took a bigger offer down in Dallas, and we'll see how it plays out. Scott Howson has earned his fair share of criticism, but this was a reasonable path to explore, and obviously another team valued the same player even more than he did.