Florida Panthers

Florida Panthers part ways with Jaromir Jagr, bring Evgeni Dadonov back

Florida Panthers right wing Jaromir Jagr acknowledges the crowd after he scored his third point against Buffalo to tie Mark Messier for second in scoring with 1,887 points on Dec. 20.
Florida Panthers right wing Jaromir Jagr acknowledges the crowd after he scored his third point against Buffalo to tie Mark Messier for second in scoring with 1,887 points on Dec. 20. AP

The Florida Panthers signed Russian winger Evgeni Dadonov on Saturday not long after news broke that the team and free agent Jaromir Jagr were breaking up.

Jagr, 45, joined the Panthers in 2015 and signed two subsequent one-year contracts but — as of now —will not be returning.

This week, Jagr joked on social media that no teams were talking to him with Florida general manager Dale Tallon saying that wasn’t true, that he had been talking to Jagr’s agent Petr Svoboda.

As of Saturday morning, as the free agency period came closer, reports surfaced that the Panthers and Jagr had severed ties and Jagr would become a free agent.

A source with the Panthers, who had said Jagr would be welcomed back to Florida at a much lower price tag than the $5.5 million he made last season (Jagr made $1.5 million in bonuses), confirmed the two sides had stopped talking.

The two are said to be very far apart as far as money goes.

Jagr, a future Hall of Famer, hit a number of milestones with the Panthers and was extremely popular during his two-plus seasons in Sunrise.

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Jaromir Jagr, Florida Panthers Chris O'Meara AP

Upon arriving in Florida after a trade with New Jersey, Jagr was put with Jonathan Huberdeau and Sasha Barkov and the trio clicked almost from the start.

The three, aside from injuries to Barkov and Huberdeau, remained together through the end of last season.

Jagr had one of his better years in the latter stages of career two seasons ago when he scored 27 goals with 66 points as Florida set a franchise record with 47 wins and 103 points.

With Huberdeau and Barkov injured for large chunks of last season, Jagr’s numbers dropped as he scored 16 goals with 46 points — still fourth-highest on the team.

In his two-plus seasons with Florida, Jagr missed just three games. He played all 82 last season.

Jagr is ranked second behind Wayne Gretzky in points (1,914), is third (765) in goals, fifth (1,149) in assists and fourth (1,711) in games played.

Aside from the Jagr news, the Panthers were fairly quiet at Saturday’s opening bell.

Florida signed a few players, including Dadonov, veteran Radim Vrbata and fourth-line enforcer Micheal Haley.

Dadonov played 55 games with the Panthers from 2010-12 before being traded to Carolina and playing for the Hurricanes’ AHL team in Charlotte.

Dadonov left for the KHL after the 2011-12 season and spent the past five seasons playing in that league.

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Florida’s Evgeni Dadonov beats Philadelphia goalie Sergei Bobrovsky for his second NHL goal on Dec. 20, 2010. Matt Slocum AP

The Panthers hope Dadonov, 28, becomes a consistent NHL offensive threat.

Dadonov is coming off his third — and best — season with KHL power St. Petersburg.

The 5-11 forward notched 30 goals and 66 points in 53 regular-season games last season, and scored an additional nine goals in 18 postseason games.

His efforts helped St. Petersburg to its second KHL championship.

Dadonov is believed to have signed a three-year, $12 million deal with the Panthers.

Vrbata, who spent last year with Arizona, can make up to $4 million this season and brings veteran experience and bolsters Florida’s depth.

The 36-year-old winger played in 81 games last season for Arizona, notching 20 goals and 55 points, both team-bests. His best season came in 2014-15, when he scored 31 goals and tallied 63 points for the Vancouver Canucks.

Florida also signed Haley from the San Jose Sharks, where the 31-year-old saw the most consistent action of his NHL career a season ago.

Up until the 2016-17 season, Haley had never played in more than 27 NHL games in a season. Last season with the Sharks, he played in 58.

He scored only two goals and notched 12 points during that campaign, but Florida’s new head coach Bob Boughner coached him in San Jose, meaning he knows what he’s getting in Haley and likes it.

Florida apparently is also continuing to shop defenseman Jason Demers after signing him to a five-year deal worth $4.5 million per season last July under the team’s old management team.

According to TSN, Demers turned down a trade to Vancouver. Former Florida defenseman Erik Gudbranson — who was traded away last summer — was rumored to be coming back in that deal.

Demers has a modified no-trade clause in his contract meaning he can submit a list of eight teams he will not go to.

The Panthers also officially announced they signed restricted free agent Alex Petrovic to a one-year deal worth a reported $1.85 million.

Tallon is expected to address the media later Saturday afternoon at the BB&T Center in Sunrise.

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