I will believe the latter when I see it Tri and I hope you are right but when it comes to your projections, there always seems to be a caveat the following seasons in other areas that fall off and we keep seeing this saber stat dance of what needs to be addressed. Lou has to find Zajac and Jagr a legitimate winger for Jagr to hold up and that line to succeed consistently if not dominate.
Lou has to make further moves with the forwards and probably through trades. He absolutely has to. There is no debate on this point not being accurate that I will even entertain.
Puck possession is an important stat but it is not a saving grace for the kind of deficiencies we had last year. It kept us close but showed how weak the roster was in certain areas both skill wise and depth wise.
They definitely need forwards - I'm not arguing that. What I'm saying is that Jagr is the largest domino in the Rube Goldberg that is NJ making the playoffs. He was probably worth $9M last year, so even if he's only half as good as he was last year he's still pulling his weight. It also signals to everyone else that the Devils aren't half-assing things.
First off, Clowe's salary is more or less okay so long as he's healthy. If he's not, his salary won't count against the cap (notwithstanding the technicalities) and insurance will cover much of the real dollars.
Second, Jagr put up more points over the past two years than Paul Statsny, who everyone wants to break the bank for. You could be paying Jagr $8 million next year. If it's only for one year, and it doesn't prevent other moves, it doesn't matter. If the bottom drops out next year, so be it. Next season is a good year to be awful anyway.
If the bottom drops out, NJ isn't a playoff team and maybe they deal Jagr for a 2nd round pick. Nothing ventured. The only risk with a 1 year contract is will it affect other moves and will it impinge on other players' playing time. I don't think it will affect other potential moves - UFA is barren aside from Paul Statsny and even if Brad Richards comes available he's a bad option - and the Devils' other RWs are Brunner, Ryder, and pray for power outage.