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Jaromir Jagr signs one-year contract with Flames

NHL, Florida Panthers, Calgary Flames

Jaromir Jagr will play a 24th season in the NHL and his first with a Canadian team. The Calgary Flames announced Wednesday that they have signed the future Hockey Hall of Famer to a one-year, $1 million contract.

After going unsigned by the Florida Panthers and with no deal with an NHL team on the horizon, Jagr had been flirting with the idea of playing in his native Czech Republic.

"I already said in a Czech newspaper it's 99.9 percent that this will be my last season, so I want to get the experience to one day say I played for a Canadian team,'' he said.

A five-time NHL scoring champion, Jagr, 45, adds a veteran presence to a young Flames lineup that hopes to take a big step in the tough Western Conference. Calgary was swept by the Anaheim Ducks in the first round last season.

Jagr is the second-leading scorer in NHL history. His 1,914 points trail only Wayne Gretzky's 2,857.

Jagr also is currently fourth in career games played, but he can pass Gordie Howe for No. 1 with 57 games this season.

"If I can reach it, especially with a Calgary Flames jersey on, it's going to be special,'' Jagr said. "I don't want to look that far."

The Flames begin the season on Wednesday in Edmonton against the Oilers, but Jagr will not suit up. He said that he needs some practice time first.

"I'm just probably going to need a little more time than usual," Jagr said. "I don't know how my body is going to react. I didn't play any games for five months. I didn't have any team practices for five months. I was practicing on my own most of the time. I just want to get some practices and see how I feel. I still need some confidence. If it's not good for the team to play right away, I'm not."

Jagr can still play. After totaling 66 points in 79 games in 2015-16, he played in all 82 games and posted 16 goals and 46 points last season as a 44-year-old. 

He could theoretically slot into right wing on the first line with center Sean Monahan and left wing Johnny Gaudreau, but wherever he plays, the Flames now have more forward depth.

"We watched a lot of his shifts from last year,'' Flames general manager Brad Treliving said, according to NHL.com. "Correction, we watched all of his shifts from last year. He still has that ability inside the blue line to hold onto pucks. His mind is at an elite level. He still makes plays.

"Is pace his strongest asset? No, but then you figure how you support speed around him and ultimately allow him to bring his assets into play. He's different than other guys at 45 who depend primarily on pace.

"If you don't know what Jaromir Jagr's all about by now, you haven't been paying attention. We want to get better. We feel he can make us better. So you do the deal."

One area in which Jagr should help is a power play that was 11th in the league last season. But the young Flames will benefit from Jagr's experience in many areas. Half the league's players weren't even born when Jagr started his career as an 18-year-old with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1990-91.

New teammate Matthew Tkachuk is one of them. His father, Keith, was selected by the Winnipeg Jets with the 19th pick in the 1990 draft -- the same draft that the Pens took Jagr fifth. Keith Tkachuk had a long career himself, retiring at age 37 after the 2009-10 season.

Jagr -- a 13-time All-Star who won the Hart Trophy in 1999 -- just keeps on going. 

"Everyone compared to my age is a young guy," Jagr said. "Last 20 years, I've played with young guys. But the last two years in Florida, I played with [Jonathan] Huberdeau and [Aleksander] Barkov, and combined their age is still younger than me. It was great for me and hopefully they can say the same thing.''

Flames coach Glen Gulutzan had Jagr for one season in Dallas and raved about their time together.

"Big body, fantastic below the circles. Hockey IQ like you've never seen," Gulutzan said, according to NHL.com. "Hands. He was real good. We ended up moving him at the end of that year to a playoff team, but I can say he was really good for our group in Dallas."

Flames players are excited, as well.

"He's one of the best to ever play the game. We're getting a legend," Michael Frolik said, according to the website.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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