Panthers pick up Jagr in trade

The Czech star has scored 716 goals, one shy of Phil Esposito for the fifth-highest in NHL history, with New Jersey receiving two draft picks, a second-rounder this year and either Florida or Minnesota???s third-round selection in 2016.

Jagr won back-to-back Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1991 and 1992, a year before the Panthers??? inception.

Florida sit two points outside the wild card positions following Thursday???s 3-0 loss against the Chicago Blackhaws, but general manager Dale Tallon believes Jagr’s experience can lead them into the play-offs for the first time since 2012.

“I’m excited about him coming here and just spending some time with him and watching him play,??? said Tallon. ???He’s an exciting guy to watch play. He’s still got it.”

In Florida, Jagr will find a dressing room with a mix of veterans and up-and-comers. Goaltender Roberto Luongo turns 36 in April and defender Willie Mitchell is 37, but none of the team’s top three scorers this season – Nick Bjugstad, Jonathan Huberdeau and Aaron Ekblad – are older than 22.

“We want to win,” Tallon said. “We want to win a championship and we’re putting the pieces together step-by-step and we’re hopeful that Jaromir can lead these young guys to the promised land. It’s a win-win for us.”

Jagr had 11 goals and 18 assists in 57 games this season for New Jersey. His playing time has been cut recently and he has gone eight games without a point, the longest such drought of his NHL career.

Jagr is due to arrive in Florida on Friday and will make his debut 24 hours later when the Panthers host the Buffalo Sabres.

Meanwhile, the biggest result on Thursday night came in Nashville, where the Minnesota Wild inflicted a rare home loss on the Predators.

Swiss winger Nino Niederreiter scored twice to give the Wild a 4-2 victory that moves them into the play-off positions in the Western Conference.

Mike Fisher and Craig Smith both scored second-period goals for Nashville as they twice came from behind, but Niederreiter???s double consigned them to a fourth defeat on home ice.

St. Louis trimmed the Predators’ Central Division lead by winning a shootout at Winnipeg, while elsewhere Detroit scored a late winner in a 3-2 comeback victory at San Jose.

Thursday???s NHL results

Buffalo Sabres 6 Vancouver Canucks 3

Columbus Blue Jackets 2 Montreal Canadiens 5

Florida Panthers 0 Chicago Blackhawks 3

Los Angeles Kings 0 Ottawa Senators 1

Nashville Predators 2 Minnesota Wild 4

New York Rangers 4 Arizona Coyotes 3

San Jose Sharks 2 Detroit Red Wings 3

Toronto Maple Leafs 3 Philadelphia Flyers 2

Winnipeg Jets 1 St Louis Blues 2 (SO)