Bruins: It’s up to Julien to balance lines with Jagr in the mix
After being left in the dust by the Penguins and Jarome Iginla last week, the Bruins successfully completed a notable trade before Wednesday afternoon’s NHL trade deadline (3 p.m.). Boston flipped forward Lane MacDermid (a healthy scratch basically all season), prospect Cody Payne (a right wing in the OHL) and a conditional second-round pick to Dallas for right wing Jaromir Jagr, the 41-year-old future NHL Hall of Famer who is the active leader in NHL goals (679), assists (1000) and points (1679).
Jagr is an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season which makes it almost a guarantee that he’s just a rental for the rest of the regular season and what the B’s hope is a long playoff run. The important question here is how will Bruins head coach Claude Julien use Jagr in the lineup?
Milan Lucic (5 goals, 15 assists) and Nathan Horton (11 goals, 9 assists) have both struggled this season and are widely regarded as the two biggest disappointments on the Bruins. Julien hates to change lines and the duo have remained, mostly, on the first line with David Krejci.
To get the full value out of a player like Jagr, Julien could opt to put him on the first line and either bump Lucic or Horton to the third line. Jagr is a right wing but he’s left-handed so you can move him around. Putting Lucic or Horton on the third line should give some life to Jordan Caron and Rich Peverley while taking Jay Pandolfo off the ice. The third line hasn’t scored an even strength goal in the 11 games that Chris Kelly has been out and many of Boston’s goal-scoring issues of late have stemmed from the fact that they have become top heavy with usually only one line (the second) producing on a consistent basis.
Jagr is likely to make his Bruins debut against the Devils Thursday night (7 p.m., NESN). There are only 14 games and just 3.5 weeks left in the regular season, so this move should give the Bruins the shot in the arm they’ll need to get a high seed in the playoffs. Don’t expect Jagr to be what he was 10 or 15 years ago, but he comes in with 14 goals and 12 assists on the season for the Stars which ties him with Brad Marchand for most Bruins goals and puts him fourth on the team in points.
Follow Metro Boston Bruins beat writer Richard Slate on Twitter: @RichSlate