How can this be?
We are now nearly two weeks into the NHL’s free agency period. The frenzy has passed, and almost all of the big names have already found their new homes.
But somehow, 45-year-old living legend Jaromir Jagr is still without a team.
FA 1994- all GMs called , FA 2017- 0 calls🏆😀 pic.twitter.com/7uLJm95CAB
— Jaromir Jagr (@68Jagr) June 29, 2017
The NHL legend has poked fun at it himself, but it really is quite puzzling that nobody seems to want him. Every team should want Jagr.
Jagr boasts the most extensive and impressive resume of any active player, and it’s not even close.
- 23 NHL seasons (1,914 points in 1,711 GP)
- 2 Stanley Cups
- 1 Olympic Gold Medal
- 5 Art Ross trophies
- 3 Lester B. Pearson trophies
- 1 Hart trophy
- 1 Bill Masterton trophy
- 13 All-Star Game selections
Aside from the above, he sits second all-time in points behind only Wayne Gretzky, and he’s a sure bet to make the Hockey Hall of Fame on his first try.
Past accolades and achievements don’t necessarily speak to how a player will perform in the present, and obviously Jagr is far removed from his award-winning days. That said, he still has a lot to offer.
Statistically speaking, this past season was Jagr’s worst-ever in the NHL. Even then, he had 16 goals and 46 points, which works out to 0.56 points-per-game.
His total of 46 points was good for 119th in the league. Doing some basic math (119 divided by 31 teams), you could say Jagr would finish either third or fourth in scoring on a league average team.
Again, that is looking at his lowest total ever in his 23 seasons.
Is age a factor? Certainly, but how much? He scored 66 points in 79 games with Florida at age 44 two seasons ago. Nobody debunks aging curves like Jagr does, and it’s completely possible for his totals to increase from 46.
He’s not fleet of foot anymore, but he wasn’t a liability for Florida. Looking beyond traditional stats, Jagr performed well for the Panthers last season, finishing second on his team in Corsi-for percentage.
Even if he regresses a bit more, you’ve still got a serviceable middle-six forward who can play up and down the lineup as needed, and brings the experience of an NHL legend.
Sure, it’s great that Jagr can still produce at a 40+ point pace in the NHL, but what about rebuilding teams?
Simple. It gives your youngsters a chance to play with a legend. Someone who has more history and experience than any other active player by a country mile.
"It was an honor to be touched by a legend, honestly… can't thank him enough for everything he did." – Dale Tallon.
Thanks, Jags. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/0Y0n17vxci
— Florida Panthers (@FlaPanthers) July 1, 2017
Dale Tallon had this to say after announcing they wouldn’t be re-signing Jagr:
“I was torn. It’s been a tough couple of months and I can’t thank him enough for what he did for our kids, myself, and the organization; you can’t measure it.”
Jagr probably won’t command much in terms of a new contract. His previous deal was one year at $4 million, and a new contract would likely be at an even lower cap hit.
That’s money well spent for all that Jagr brings to a team.
He’s the perfect mentor for any rebuilder, or a great middle-six winger for a contending team. For teams struggling with attendance and jersey sales, Jagr would certainly help there too. Even casual fans know his name.
Jagr wants to play until he’s 50, he just needs someone to give him the chance.
Happy 45th birthday, @68Jagr! You beautiful treasure of a being. Here's to 20 more seasons, eh? 😉 pic.twitter.com/28gXS4JQF6
— NHL (@NHL) February 15, 2017