Jaromir Jagr, Philadelphia Flyer

Jaromir Jagr, Philadelphia Flyer

Well, after rejecting an offer from the Pittsburgh Penguins, legendary Czech winger Jaromir Jagr has signed a 1-year, $3.3 million deal with the Philadelphia Flyers.

Jagr is a name that will conjure some pretty mixed emotions in some, and very specific emotions in others. He was one of the best scorers the NHL has ever seen, but you don't get to be "legendary" without also being old. His two Stanley Cup wins with the Penguins were almost 20 years ago. Based on the feedback many Flyers fans are giving to the signing though, it feels like yesterday.

After departing the NHL following the 2007-2008 season, Jagr has has been playing with Avangard Omsk of the KHL. It was widely believed his return landing in North America would be in Pittsburgh, where he spent his first 11 seasons. However, the Pens' offer for his services was said to be $2 million, far less than the $3.3 he got from the Flyers.

Fans may object to both that number and to Jagr the player, whom we've been trained to hate. In addition to playing with the Pens, he's also been a Washington Capital and a New York Ranger.

Throughout most of his NHL career, Jagr was an amazingly gifted goal scorer and playmaker. He's won a league MVP award and been a finalist five other times, and led the league in scoring five different times. The last of those was 2001, but even in 2007-2008, then with the Rangers, Jags scored 25 goals and tallied 46 assists. Two seasons earlier, his first with New York, he had 54 goals and 69 assists. Again though, we're talking about quite a few years ago. Jagr has been productive in Russia, but it remains to be seen how much he has left in the tank.

There's also no telling how he'll fit in here. (Hell, who knows what "here" even means right now. The Flyers look like a completely different team heading into next season.) Will he quickly subscribe to Peter Laviolette's demanding system, or will he be a lazy backchecker and this season's version of Nikolay Zherdev, only with a heftier price tag and a name that fans already hate? With talks stalling between the Flyers and Ville Leino, the Flyers are presumably hoping Jagr can adequately replace something approaching the production Ville contributed at a price less than the reported ~$4 million Leino's camp is looking for. Even at 39, Jagr could both outscore Leino and do more to help his linemates. There's no doubt he'll draw defenders' attention.

[UPDATE: Leino has signed with Buffalo on a huge 6-year, $27 million deal. Good for Ville and all, but it's pretty questionable he's worth that amount, and the signing makes the Jagr deal look a hell of a lot better. Rather than lock up a player with only a short track record of NHL success, all of which came after he came to Philadelphia, the Flyers made a low-risk (in that it's only one year) deal with a future first-ballot Hall of Famer. If you're mad that Jagr is a Flyer for the upcoming season, would you have preferred 6 years of $4.5 million?]

Last night, Anthony SanFilippo of the Daily Times referred to the Flyers' possible signing of Jagr as similar to the Phillies coming along and signing Cliff Lee last winter. While I agree with that from the surprise-attack-on-a-rival angle, the personnel angle really feels like the signing of Pedro Martinez.

We can only hope the results are the same, with Jagr winning over the fans that have loved to hate him for the past two decades. And, just as we wrapped up putting together this post, there's news that the Flyers have signed another former Penguin—center Max Talbot…

Anyone want to go on the record with some projections for Jagr's goals/assists/points this season?

Photo credit Kyle Terada-US PRESSWIRE.

Joel Embiid 'shoots the ball with the touch of like Steph Curry'

Joel Embiid 'shoots the ball with the touch of like Steph Curry'

NEW ORLEANS -- Of all the players Joel Embiid could be compared to, a similarity between a 7-foot-2, 270-something-pound center and a 6-foot-3, 190-pound point guard wouldn’t seem like a match.

That’s exactly what Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry sees, however, when looking at Embiid and reigning MVP Steph Curry.

“He’s different than anybody that’s been in this league in a long, long time,” Gentry said Thursday before the Sixers win over the Pelicans. “He’s a tremendous talent, he really is. I’ve never seen a guy that size, and with that kind of strength, that’s got such a soft touch. He shoots the ball with the touch of like Steph Curry. It’s so soft when it leaves his hand.”

Curry is shooting 48.9 percent from the field and 40.1 percent from three. Embiid is 45.8 percent from the floor is 44.2 percent from long range.

Embiid flashed a big smile and paused to react when hearing of Gentry’s praise. He had been feeling hard on himself after going 0 for 5 beyond the arc against the Pelicans (see story).

“Steph is probably one of the best shooters in the league right now," Embiid said. "So that compliment means a lot."

This time, Steve Mason bailed out by Flyers' teammates

This time, Steve Mason bailed out by Flyers' teammates

Steve Mason was not his sharpest Thursday night and he's the first to admit it.

"There's nights where you're not feeling as sharp as you'd like to," Mason said. "This is a situation the guys in front never quit. They earned the two points for sure."

Mason yielded five goals for the third time this season, but made enough saves to secure the Flyers' seventh straight win, a 6-5 victory over the Oilers at the Wells Fargo Center.

The win streak is the longest the Flyers have had since Dec. 2-15, 2011, when "Mr. Universe" Ilya Bryzgalov was their goaltender. Mason finished with 28 saves.

"The guys bailed me out," Mason said, "When your goalie is not making the saves that you need, but the guys keep battling in front, from a personal standpoint, it's huge to see."

Making his 16th start in the Flyers' last 17 games, Mason appeared to show signs of fatigue against Edmonton. He's started the last six games, winning all six.

His current six-game win streak is a career-high, and the five goals allowed Thursday is the first time he's allowed more than two goals during this current streak. 

Entering Thursday, Mason was 5-0 with a 1.74 goals-against average and .947 save percentage in his previous five starts, and 8-3-1 with a 2.11 GAA and .930 save percentage since Nov. 12. So Thursday is just a small blemish on Mason's impressive résumé of late.

"I didn't think he looked tired," Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol said. "This win's a little bit indicative of the type of team we have. A couple nights ago, Mason was the best player. He picked up a lot of guys around him and tonight maybe wasn't his best.

"But it was pretty good. The guys battled hard. They picked up some of the slack. That's what it takes. Every guy's not going to be at their best every night.

"You'd like them to be, and I know the guys want to be at that level, but when one piece isn't working, the other part has to pick it up."

The Flyers' offensive outburst came two days after Mason stole two points against the Florida Panthers, and nine days after the goalie stole another two points against Boston.

Twice on Thursday the Flyers faced two-goal deficits, and both times they found a way to erase them. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it's the first time in Flyers' history they were able to win a game in which they were down two goals twice.

"Once we got it to 5-4," Mason said, "I tried to lock it down as best I could. There's nights where you're not feeling as sharp as you'd like to.  … Coming back in a couple of days, from a personal standpoint, I got to be more sharp."

After going falling behind 2-0, the Flyers tied it, 2-2, with three goals in 72 seconds in the second period, the quickest three-goal burst since Feb. 14, 2009, vs. the Islanders. 

Then, the Flyers fell behind 5-3 before Voracek sparked a three-goal third period with his 10th of the year at 6:31. Claude Giroux tallied his second of the game, and Michael Raffl pushed the Flyers to victory with his sixth of the season at 18:31 of the final stanza.

"It's a great feeling to come back from behind," Flyers rookie defenseman Ivan Provorov said. "You never want to be in that position, but that's the way it sometimes go. We stuck with it and came from behind and won the game. It's a great effort."

Of the five goals allowed Thursday, the first goal Mason allowed was the only one that can be pinned on the netminder. It was not a great goal to give up, on the second shot of the game, too. Afterward, he said the read was the backdoor play, but Leon Draisaitl slipped it through Mason's five-hole for his fifth goal in as many games.

"Some nights you can be better than the other nights," Provorov said. "And that's what the team's all about. We play for each other. If someone has a mistake, we all help him out and play for each other. That's why we win games."

"That's how you become a great team," Voracek, who tied a career-high with four points, said. "Mase playing the last six games the way he did, it wasn't his night.

"We came big for him. It's how you get into the playoffs, and it's how you have success in the playoffs. It's a good thing we won the game and get rolling now."