It started as a novel idea for Devils president and general manager Lou Lamoriello and it very quickly turned into a necessity.

The Devils’ courting of Jaromir Jagr was consummated yesterday when the team signed the 41-year-old forward to a one-year deal worth $2 million plus another $2 million in games-played bonuses. It came in the wake of Ilya Kovalchuk’s retirement two weeks ago.

“In my stage because I love the game I was looking for a team where I would get an opportunity to play” Jagr said on a conference call. “I was talking to Lou even before Kovalchuk retired and after he retired it was even more of a chance for me to play for the Devils.”

The experience Jagr brings is valuable but with the experience comes the heaviness of his legs which move at a lot slower pace than they used to. Last season he started with the Stars and was traded to the Bruins midway through going with Boston all the way to the Stanley Cup finals.

By playing in the KHL during the lockout Jagr counted 105 games played during his most recent continuous season and he failed to score a goal during the whole of the Bruins’ postseason run.

“There was only one thing on my mind this year and that was to stay in the NHL” Jagr said. “There were at least three-four teams that were kind of interested.”

Now Jagr joins a group of forwards very different from last season — and even more so from the group that made it to the finals just two season ago. Even before Kovalchuk left 12 years and $77 million on the table to go play in his native Russia Lamoriello had signed veteran free agents Ryane Clowe and Michael Ryder to help contribute up front.

Joining mainstays Dainus Zubrus and Patrik Elias the forward group is indeed long in the tooth. With 41-year-old goaltender Martin Brodeur the Devils are primed to be the one of the oldest teams in the league.