We’re approaching the middle of August, and Jaromir Jagr is still looking for work in the NHL.
The 45-year-old forward is an unrestricted free agent, on the market after the Florida Panthers decided not to re-sign him. In an interview with NHL.com, Jagr said a couple of NHL teams have shown interest but “nothing specific yet.”
He also suggested he could play in the Czech Republic this season.
“Most important for me is to see some serious interest from the team. Because the more serious it is, the bigger the chance to get a better role on the team,” said Jagr.
“And then it’s on me how I would use that chance. Right now, I need to be ready when the opportunity comes. That’s all I need to take care of now; taking care of anything else doesn’t make sense.”
Today’s NHL emphasizes youth and speed. Jagr will celebrate his 46th birthday in February. Yet, despite his age and the fact he’s played more than 1,700 NHL regular season games, he has remained a productive player with 16 goals and 46 points last season in Florida.
The speed may not be there. But 46 points is nothing to scoff at, especially for a player getting closer to 50 years of age than 40. It’s a good bet many hockey fans would love to see him return to the NHL for at least one more season. The big hurdle is, of course, finding a general manager willing to take on a player of that age with declining speed, especially if they have younger, quicker prospect wingers looking to make the jump to the NHL, or from a bottom-six role to a top-six role.
He may still be a good fit for a potential contender looking to add a productive forward for a playoff run.
The Vegas Golden Knights likely aren’t going to contend for a championship in 2018, but they have been discussed a few times as a potential fit for Jagr — at least in theory. Adding Jagr would be a great way to market the expansion team. Sell some seats. Bring fans out to see this seemingly ageless wonder that also happens to have the second most points (1,914) in NHL history behind only Wayne Gretzky. In addition to selling the team further in that market, he could still be a productive forward and the Golden Knights have about $5.6 million remaining in cap space.
There has been speculation about what kind of fit Jagr would be with Calgary Flames. Their moves this summer would suggest the Flames believe they’re entering a window to win now. They were in the middle of the pack in scoring goals last season, and perhaps Jagr could help in that area. With 11 forwards signed on their roster right now, they have about $7.1 million in cap space.
There was similar speculation maybe Montreal and New Jersey could be fits, too.
It seems fans would love to have Jagr back. The youth have taken over the NHL game, which is great because hockey has never been quicker. That’s what makes watching someone who is 45 years old and still productive so enjoyable.
But ultimately the decision lies with the general managers across the league.