"Jaromir Jagr beats Luongo like a rented mule."
Pittsburgh Penguins radio play-by-play man Mike Lange used to have those awesome catchphrases regarding Jagr, nearly two decades ago. And yet, here is a 45-year-old Jagr still playing in the NHL and threatening to lead his team in scoring once again. He's simply an unstoppable force/immovable object. Man, has it been that long since he was on the Pens?
But Jagr could switch teams twice within a couple of months. He could find himself traded at the deadline within a couple of weeks, and he could later sign with a new team on July 1st when he's a free agent. But the question is which teams will want him and which teams will happily pass on him. Jagr changes teams every year, so he's basically linked to new teams every year.
Here's a look at eight teams that should want Jagr and chase him, along with seven teams that will avoid adding him.
15 Want: Chicago Blackhawks
The Blackhawks core from the 2010, 2013 and 2015 championship teams remain in tact. But with Brandon Saad and Andrew Shaw leaving since their last Stanley Cup, Chicago could use another forward up front.
Jaromir Jagr would be a nice rental for the Blackhawks. He's 45 years of age but is playing like he's 20 years younger. Jagr's size has helped him remain a force with the puck. He and Jonathan Toews would be one tough duo to stop.And Jagr won't be too expensive. Chicago would probably just have to dangle a first round pick and/or or B-level prospect to land Jagr. Even if they want to look at him in the offseason, it's reasonable to see Jagr taking a pay cut to play on a contender.
14 Stay Away: San Jose Sharks
The Sharks used their speed and skill level to get through the Western Conference in last year's playoffs. But the Pittsburgh Penguins were just that much faster, beating them in six games to win the Stanley Cup.
If San Jose is looking to add another big name at the deadline, Jagr makes no sense. This team has enough ageing forwards in Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau (both 37), and Joe Pavelski (32). The goal for general manager Doug Wilson should be to get younger and faster, not older and slower.
San Jose also has to plan for the future with this championship window closing. They'd be wise to hold onto those draft picks and few promising prospects. A 45-year-old isn't going to make or break their Stanley Cup mission.
13 Want: New York Rangers
The Rangers are the one team that will always kick the tires on every big name available at both the trade deadline and in free agency. Bringing back old friend Jaromir Jagr (who played with the Blueshirts from 2004 to 2008), would be a wise move that could help them get over in a stacked Eastern Conference.
Despite having an impressive 35-18-1 record, the Rangers don't seem to have the firepower to be a top-three team in the Metropolitan Division. They have to get aggressive if they want to get through Washington, Pittsburgh and Columbus. Jagr could be another vital piece to their Stanley Cup run.
The Rangers are loaded with guys who can score 20-plus goals, but bringing on a guy like Jagr could be that extra piece that just wears out any team trying to defend against their high-flying offence. Jagr might be all they need to go on a long playoff run.
12 Stay Away: Washington Capitals
"If it ain't broke, don't fix it."
The Capitals have overcome a rather sluggish start to the season and are the NHL's best team with a 38-11-6 record. Braden Holtby is having another Vezina caliber season, the defensive unit is far-and-away the league's stingiest and their offence isn't so reliant on Alexander Ovechkin -- who is still great, by the way.
And with that, the Capitals shouldn't risk team chemistry by adding on Jagr. Barry Trotz's system has turned Washington into a mega contender. But when it comes to Jagr, throwing him in Trotz's system would be like throwing a hand-tossed salad into your bowl of vanilla ice cream
Trotz implements an extremely heavy and physical defensive game which wouldn't work on a 45-year-old who lost his speed years ago. Jagr would not be a great fit on Washington who has no reason to add more players.
11 Want: Montreal Canadiens
The Canadiens were one the top team in the Eastern Conference, surging through the league from October to early December. Carey Price was Carey Price, Shea Weber was playing like the league's top blue liner and everyone was scoring. But then basically every Habs player except Max Pacioretty took a huge step back and the team hasn't decided to fire head coach Michel Therrien yet for some reason.
So with that, general manager Marc Bergevin has to add another veteran to help this team go all the way. He's often one of the most aggressive at the trade deadline. He added Thomas Vanek in 2014 and recently added Nikita Nesterov.
Jagr would be a nice fit on the Canadiens. He has plenty of playoff experience, strong leadership and would bring plenty of size to a relatively small team. Multiple Sportsnet reports over the years have stated that Jagr has had a desire to play for Montreal. Perhaps Bergevin finally pulls the trigger once and for all?
10 Stay Away: Winnipeg Jets
The Jets were once in the playoff race, but despite years of scientific studies, in-depth analysis and millions spent on research...the team hasn't chosen to fire Paul Maurice nor add an established number one goalie. And no, scientists didn't actually research this Jets saga that much. I was just trying to make it seem like a big deal.
So basically, the Jets had so much promise going into this season. Despite strong seasons from Mark Scheifele, Patrik Laine and Nikolaj Ehlers, the Jets are falling out of the postseason race, and it may be too little too late for them at this point.
While some may believe that the Jets are going to make a big move to salvage their season, that would be foolish of them, and Jagr is not the answer. They have the league's best prospect collection and may as well hope for the best at this point. Jagr would not be enough to cover up the problems of Maurice's worn-out system, the defensive struggles and the goalie woes.
9 Want: Edmonton Oilers
The Oilers are well on their way to making the playoffs for the first time in 11 years. The rise of Connor McDavid is the key reason for that. But goalie Cam Talbot is finally the established number one they've waited for, the defence has tightened up and Leon Draisaitl, Patrick Maroon, Milan Lucic and others have helped the scoring.
Thing is, the Oilers may as well go for some big moves at the trade deadline. Few of their players besides Lucic have much playoff experience, and getting through the Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks look to be very difficult tasks.
Adding Jagr would bring them that much-needed veteran leadership and experience. He would also add size to a team that relies on smallish, speedy forwards. His physicality and toughness would help Edmonton play better against the Ducks and Sharks teams.
8 Stay Away: Ottawa Senators
Under new head coach Guy Boucher, the Senators have transitioned into a much more defensively responsible team. Despite playing most of this season without Craig Anderson (who's supporting his wife that's battling cancer), the Sens have themselves contending for the Atlantic Division, sitting in second place behind the struggling Canadiens.
Though the Sens aren't scoring has much as they usually do, adding Jagr wouldn't do a lot for their offensive woes. Jagr would not be able to fit Boucher's system that asks players to stay structured and transition well from end-to-end. His 45-year-old frame just isn't built for that anymore.
Mark Stone, Kyle Turris, Erik Karlsson, Mike Hoffman, Derick Brassard and others give the Senators enough offence heading into the playoffs. Jagr does not address their woes and he wouldn't mesh well with this team's style.
7 Want: Pittsburgh Penguins
The Penguins were the first NHL team Jagr ever knew. He was a key part of their 1991 and 1992 Stanley Cup championship teams and has been rumored over the years to possibly head back to the Steel City. How cool would it be to see Jagr and Sidney Crosby on the same line?
Thing is, Pittsburgh's Cup window isn't going to stay open forever. Sidney Crosby, (30 in August), Kris Letang (3o in April), Evgeni Malkin (30 in July), and Phil Kessel (30 next fall), are going to slow down sooner rather than later. General manager Jim Rutherford is better off getting aggressive by going all-in to try to add championships.
Scoring isn't much of a problem for Pittsburgh, but they may as well try to add another veteran that could come cheap. Jagr would probably love to head back to Pittsburgh, and they'd be silly not to take him on if given the opportunity to acquire the legend.
6 Stay Away: Detroit Red Wings
The Red Wings are likely to see their incredible 25-year playoff streak come to an end. Though general manager Ken Holland hasn't been a seller in his two decades as the man in charge, there's no reason to believe he will be a buyer this year. The Red Wings may feel inclined to be aggressive and keep the streak alive, but that would be the wrong decision.
This team has major scoring woes. Their leading scorer (Henrik Zetterberg), is on pace to finish with 59 points. Their defence is among the NHL's worst, and the goalie situation is as gloomy as a swamp in Florida. What I'm trying to get at is that Jagr will simply not be able to help the Wings get to the postseason on his own.
Detroit is lacking quality prospects and young assets, because Holland has given up draft picks like it's Christmas. The Wings need to bite their tongues and not chase veterans like Jagr. He's not going to be enough.
5 Want: Los Angeles Kings
The Kings are seeing their Stanley Cup window slowly come to an end. After winning the Stanley Cup in 2014, they missed the postseason in 2015, were eliminated in the first round last year and are once again battling for their playoff lives in 2017. With no prospects that are showing long-term promise, general manager Dean Lombardi should feel inclined to be aggressive.
Jagr would be an excellent fit for the Kings up front. They are built on physical, tough and big forwards up front: Anze Kopitar at 6-3, 224 pounds, Jeff Carter at 6-4, 215 pounds and Tanner Pearson at 6-1, 208 pounds. The Kings are always among the NHL's top Corsi teams and Jagr's ability to hold onto the puck make him a perfect fit under head coach Darryl Sutter.
Los Angeles needs another forward to be a prime Cup contender, and Jagr would be an ideal fit for them. Everything lines up perfectly, now Lombardi just has to go do it.
4 Stay Away: Vancouver Canucks
The Canucks have this knack for making the wrong decision so much. They don't rebuild when they should rebuild, they make trades when they shouldn't make trades and they don't make trades when they should make trades. I'm saying this as a life-long and frustrated Vancouverite.
Last year, general manager Jim Benning opted not to trade pending UFAs Dan Hamhuis and Radim Vrbata at the trade deadline, and he saw them leave in free agency just months later. If Benning doesn't want to look foolish again, he won't mortgage the future for rental forwards -- especially Jagr.
This Canucks team is barely hanging around in the playoff race, but relying on 36-year-olds Daniel and Henrik Sedin has failed miserably. How would a 45-year-old Jagr be the difference maker? He wouldn't be. This team has to avoid Jagr at all costs -- no matter what.
3 Want: Calgary Flames
The Calgary Flames had a miserable start to the 2016-17 season, but they've finally gotten it together under new head coach Glen Gulutzan. The tandem of Brian Elliot and Chad Johnson in goal have carried the Flames back into the playoff race. You have the usual talents of Mark Giordano, Dougie Hamilton, Sam Bennett, Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan carrying this team the rest of the way.
But Calgary is a relatively young team that could use a solid top-six veteran forward, and those guys are handy in the playoffs. If they make the playoffs, the Flames are likely facing the Sharks, Ducks or Minnesota Wild. They'll need all the firepower up front they can get, and Jagr provides that.
This team has so much speed and skill, but getting the big and crafty Jagr could complement them nicely. It would come in handy against a gritty team like the Wild, too.
2 Stay Away: Toronto Maple Leafs
The Maple Leafs appear destined to go from last place in the NHL a year ago to the playoffs in 2017. Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and William Nylander have put the Maple Leafs in the driver's seat for a top-three spot in the Atlantic Division. Though one would expect them to make an aggressive move or two, they seem fairly committed to going with this roster for the long run.
Toronto is surely not willing to give up any of their young players or draft picks for rental players, and Jaromir Jagr doesn't make a lot of sense in Toronto. This team may reach the postseason, but he wouldn't be that piece to take them to Stanley Cup contention. There's just no reason to believe they'd want to add a 45-year-old who is ready to be a free agent in July.
1 Want: Columbus Blue Jackets
The Blue Jackets have been the NHL's most surprising team so far this season under head coach John Tortorella. They sit at second-overall in the Eastern Conference and appear to be a legitimate Stanley Cup contender. However, a nice playoff run likely includes having to beat both Pittsburgh and Washington. Columbus will need all the help it can get to go that far.
Though this team has plenty of scoring up front from Cam Atkinson, Brandon Saad and Nick Foligno, adding Jagr would be an excellent move for many reasons. For one, this young and inexperienced team (when it comes to the postseason), has a leader to go buy. For others, they simply get another reliable forward in the playoffs that could be a difference against Pittsburgh and Washington.
Columbus had made the playoffs just twice in its history, and they could find that 2017 is the time to go all-in. That would mean bringing in Jagr.
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