The case is actually pretty simple.
If it were anyone else, and certainly anyone who wasn’t over the age of 40, a player of Jaromir Jagr’s ability would have been signed on July 1 without prejudice. With the field of available players thinning out and Jagr relegated to the bargain bin, NHL teams should relish the chance to sign the league’s No. 2 all-time scorer.
One thing to be taken into account here is the simple fact that Jagr outproduced many of the veteran forwards who have already been signed. It wouldn’t quite be fair to compare Jagr to a field of younger talent, as undeveloped players under 30 signed to multi-year deals can be seen as an investment. However, when we compare Jagr to other veterans, he should be considered in the top tier of talent. In 2016–17, Jaromir Jagr scored 16 goals and 30 assists for a total of 46 points, and did not miss a single game. How did other veteran forwards do? Take a look:
-Michael Cammalleri: 10/21/31, 61 GP; 1 yr/$1 mill with LAK
-Scott Hartnell: 13/24/35, 78 GP; 1 yr/$1 mill with NSH
-Brian Boyle: 13/12/25, 75 GP; 2 yr/$5.5 mill with NJD
-Justin Williams: 24/24/48, 80 GP; 2 yr/$9 mill with CAR
-Patrick Sharp: 8/10/18, 48 GP; 1 yr/$1 mill with CHI (To be fair, Sharp missed much of the season with a concussion. In the previous year, he went 20/35/55 in 76 games. However, with what we know about concussion issues and given Sharp’s age — 35 — he wasn’t worth much more than what he got from the Blackhawks.)
-Jussi Jokinen: 11/17/28, 69 GP; 1 yr/$1 mill with EDM
-Ales Hemsky: 4/3/7, 15 GP; 1 yr/$1 mill with MTL (Again, injuries sidelined Hemsky much of last season, so this signing reflects the risk of him re-injuring his hip. However, he was outperformed by Jagr’s numbers in 2015–16 as well, so the point stands.)
-Chris Kunitz: 9/20/29, 71 GP; 1 yr/$2 mill with TBL
-Patrick Marleau: 27/19/46, 82 GP; 3 yr/$18.75 mill with TOR
Let that sink in — Jagr had as many points last year as the 38-year-old Patrick Marleau, who is set to make an AAV of $6.25 million over the next three years. Injury problems notwithstanding, Jagr outpaced many of his veteran counterparts on this list and is at least in the category of the top tier veterans who made a lot of money so far this offseason.
To say the absolute least, if Jaromir Jagr were to get the minimum contract we see above and make $1 million for 1-year, he’d be worth every cent. At the ripe old age of 45, he is not a top-line winger anymore and hasn’t been for quite some time. What is worth noting, however, is that in the right situation, he has shown flashes of the old Jagr in recent years. In 2015–16, he put up 27 goals for the Florida Panthers and seemed quite comfortable in his role. He put up 67 points in 2013–14 with his previous team, the New Jersey Devils, a team that didn’t have a single player with 60+ points this past year.
Jagr’s output surpassed that of many talented NHL players last season (Hornqvist, Nash, Parise, Hossa, just to name a few), but his bargain bin price tag should make this signing a no-brainer. He’s a gym rat, even at 45. He’s a locker room leader with experience none can match. He can play the depth positions and special teams roles with ease. He’s still a load to handle when he’s on the puck. Most importantly, he can still put up the numbers to be effective in his role and is not, in any sense, an injury liability. In fact, he hasn’t missed more than 10 games in a season since he was in Washington in 2002. He’s only played less than 70 games (not including lockout-shortened seasons) three times in his lengthy career. The guy just doesn’t get hurt like that.
So why is Jagr’s best offer coming from the ECHL’s Florida Everblades? The only real reason is that, despite Jagr’s ability to hold up for so long, Father Time remains undefeated. Eventually, it will be time to hang them up, and no one wants to wind up holding the bag when Jagr finally reaches that point. However, Jagr’s agent has assured us that he is not returning to the KHL and that they are talking to “several teams.” Who are those teams? Nothing concrete has been reported. But you should definitely hope your team is one of them.