In his illustrious NHL career, 45-year-old Jaromir Jagr has amassed over 1,900 points in 23 seasons. Had he not spent three years (from 2008-2011) in the KHL, he would be just the second player ever to reach 2,000 points.
Last season the ageless wonder still finished with 16 goals and 30 assists despite being a 44-going-on-45-year old. He’s now closer to 50 than 40 and yet miraculously he doesn’t seem to be slowing down. The guy has remained extremely productive, but he somehow is still a free agent here in August.
Yours truly is no Pierre Lebrun-level insider. So your guess is as good as mine as to why Jagr hasn’t already latched on with an NHL team for the 2017-18 season. However, he still wants to play and his numbers last season were still top-six, if not top-line quality. Jagr’s Panthers followed up a 2015-16 playoff appearance with an extremely disappointing 2016-17 season. They finished under .500 and Jagr’s performance was actually one of the rare bright spots.
Jagr to the Wild Wild West?
Considering Jagr has mostly played on the East Coast and never played for a team further west than Dallas, San Jose may seem like an unusual landing spot. However, there is the noted connection between Jagr and Sharks Head Coach Pete DeBoer. DeBoer coached Jagr while he was a New Jersey Devil from 2013-15, so there is an automatic familiarity with the systems and terminology.
But that’s not the only reason that Jagr to the Sharks makes a lot of sense. If there was ever a free agent signing that could genuinely pump up the locker room, it would be Jagr to San Jose. The Czech native would be joining a team with a countrymate who simply adores him. Tomas Hertl grew up idolizing Jagr. Hertl and his girlfriend even famously posed for the same style picture that a young Jagr made famous. Hertl, who is already known for his big smile, would be all smiles all season if he got to play with his childhood hero.
Money Money Moneeeeh
Furthermore, when it comes to money, there really shouldn’t be any problem. If Jagr is looking for a similar amount of money to his recent deals, the Sharks have plenty of cap space to sign him. According to Cap Friendly, the Sharks are currently sitting on $8.7M in cap space with a roster of 19 players. Rounding out the roster will likely be Timo Meier and Tim Heed who will combine for about $1.5 M. That leaves the Sharks with space to sign Jagr to a 1-year deal at around $5-6M and still have some wiggle room.
While the Sharks are looking to get younger and guys like Meier and Kevin Labanc are part of the present and future, Jagr would add a veteran presence they could certainly use. It would be asking a lot of the young forwards to replace Patrick Marleau’s production and leadership presence without the addition of a veteran scoring winger. It is certainly plausible, but San Jose would need basically all of their young players to have big seasons.
When Marleau signed with Toronto, it immediately became apparent that the Sharks ought to be in the market for a 1-year flier on a scoring winger. Extensions for Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Martin Jones kick in come 2018-19, so multi-year free agent additions this summer didn’t make sense, unless the team was prepared to buyout a contract like Paul Martin or Mikkel Boedker.
A one-year deal though for Jagr makes all too much sense. There really isn’t any reason for General Manager Doug Wilson not to make an offer in the $5M range. The Sharks were hoping to have Marleau back before he signed with the Leafs. Therefore, a veteran addition to replace him wouldn’t really be taking away ice time from younger players. Based off San Jose’s original plan, Jagr would just be taking Marleau’s minutes.
Signing Jagr is very much a low-risk/high reward move. If he struggles, it’s not as if the Sharks will be forced to give him a certain amount of minutes. If he plays well, the Sharks will very likely be a strong contender yet again. The off chance he plays well, but the team struggles, he could possibly be moved at the trade deadline for a mid-round draft choice.