The NHL salary cap took an unexpected jump, by almost $5m.
The Penguins may do something else unexpected: Signing Jaromir Jagr.
Jagr negotiated with Detroit and one other NHL team over the weekend, but sources say the Penguins have since been contacted by Jagr's agent, Petr Svoboda. Dialogue is ongoing. There's even a report that owner Mario Lemieux has (or will) get involved.
"Hey, Jags, remember that time you said you owed me a season at minimum wage?"
Remove Jagr's name from the equation. Would you pay a legit top-six forward, say, $2.5m? Sure, you would. Heck, the Pens paid Miroslav Satan $3.5m. The Penguins have approximately $7.7m worth of cap space.
While Jagr's name and reputation might frighten the uneducated, it should do exactly the opposite. Jagr would return to the NHL with a chip on his shoulder, with something to prove: "There would be some people who think I'm not good enough," Jagr said. Style-wise, he'd be a perfect fit for Evgeni Malkin. Jagr is a power-play PHENOM. Sure, he's best in the right circle, just like Malkin and Sidney Crosby. But he's BETTER AT IT. Enough placating egos. Time to win.
Those who think signing Jagr would be a bad hockey move simply don't know what they're talking about. No TANGIBLE argument can be made against it.
Signing Jagr for one season would require $2.5m, $3m max. Any more than that, the Penguins should back away.
People talk about how young the Penguins are. But when you have Malkin and Crosby, the future is always RIGHT NOW. Who's better RIGHT NOW: Jagr, or Tyler Kennedy? At 39, there's a certain risk. But it's a one-year risk. Jagr has never been injury-prone. He's always been willing to play hurt, and has done so effectively. His immaturity has long been overblown. Anyway, how immature could he be at 39?
This isn't a Ray Shero-type move. The Penguins GM has always stayed the course, favored the steady build. Lemieux pushed Shero into dealing for Marian Hossa at the 2008 trade deadline. It got the Pens a spot in the Stanley Cup final.
Lemieux was right then. He'd be right now. Getting Jagr means a trip to the conference final. No less, maybe more.
UPDATE: Rob Rossi says that, everything else being equal, the Penguins are Jagr's first choice.