Jaromir Jagr is an enigma, and defining his career accomplishments and place in NHL history is actually challenging. In terms of his cumulative statistics, he's a certain Hall of Famer as he ranks 4th in games played, 3rd in goals, 5th in assists, and 2nd in points. He's still playing at 45 years old, has played for eight teams in 27, count em', 27 seasons, and this is just in the NHL.
But where does he rank among the all time greats? His statistics surely suggest the top 5, but was he even in the top 5 of his era? He won two cups with Pittsburgh, scored 100 points five times, and netted 50 goals in 3 different seasons. For comparison sake, without a Mario Lemieux, Joe Sakic scored over 100 points six times and won yeo cups. Steve Yzerman banked 6 seasons of 100 points, five seasons scoring over 50 goals, two over 60, and won three Cups. Is Jagr even better than Crosby and Malkin?
Jagr retired for the first time in 2007-08, and returned in 2011-12. He's played for five teams over the last 10 years, and during those 10 seasons, he's scored over 20 goals just three times and never averaged close to a point per game. Is this how greats want to be remembered?
It is certainly fair to ask if Jagr is playing for himself and even why he is playing. Does he want to pad his stats, win a Cup, entertain fans, or play simply because he can. Personally, I am tired of enthralled and amazed fans and hockey people argue he is "defying age," because quite frankly, he stinks now. He's not effective and seems to be just playing to play. But just because I wouldn't offer him a contract, doesn't mean there aren't teams eager to offer him short term, inexpensive deals. If I'm Jagr, I retire, but he thinks he's got another 5 years in him. Seriously. It will be tough to watch, but if if I were him, these are the teams of "where it is and where it ain't." Jagr seems like he'll hang around for a little while longer and if he does, we'll outline where he needs to go and where he shouldn't.
15 Should: New York Islanders
When Jagr entered the league as a Penguin, they played at the height of one of the great divisions in all of hockey, The Patrick. Though Bettman ripped the simple, honored, unique, and meaningful tradition of Division names that fans and players loved, let's return to that history and see Jagr wear the sweater of the one team he didn't play for, the Isles. Jagr has played with the Caps, Flyers, Rangers, and Devils, so I'd like to see him with a "full house" to complete his tour of the Patrick. It would be a perfect fit to honor the division by displaying all the sweaters in his man cave, but also add some interest for Isles' fans.
He could play with Tavares, move to the 2nd line, and play on the second power play unit. He might enjoy a 50 point season, and though he won't win a Cup, that seems the furthest thing from his mind anyway. At the very least, during his FINAL retirement speech, he might be able to persuade Bettman to see the importance of tying division names to the sports history.
14 14: Should Not: Ottawa Senators
With the Sens' courageous and thrilling playoff run, this is a bad fit for both. The Sens seemed to find chemistry as their stars played well, their enigmatic players rose to another level, and they played a smart, poised, team concept. Jagr would cause a step back for the organization on many levels. He's no longer fast enough to skate with the Sens, he likes to hold onto the puck when the Sens look for odd man rushes, and he doesn't get back into the play. Though it would be cool to see him play for all the Canadian teams, the Sens, Jets, Flames, and Canucks must realize he brings nothing to their lineup. The Sens found that they can play among the elite, and to get over the hump, a speedy, young UFA is the way to go.
13 Should: Detroit Red Wings
After playing for the Bruins and Rangers, Jagr has only four original sux teams left to play for and he might as well hit the Wings first. If he's looking for stats, he could probably play on their first two lines and definitely see power play time. Knowing his good fortune, he'd probably either score the first goal or first hat trick and be the answer to a trivia question. Also, in the twilight of his career, the hockey world seems to feel he has discovered"leadership" qualities, which I also don't see. But if it's true, Detroit has some young guns he can mentor. Larkin, probably the most important player for Detroit to develop, could certainly use a stabilizing, calm, and professional presence in the room. His sophomore season was a disappointment, and while he is only 20, he could benefit from JJ's experience.
12 Should Not: Calgary Flames
Word out of Calgary is their team is facing questions, which I don't buy, and one piece they should avoid is Jagr. They are young and exciting up front, and after making the playoffs in 2015-16, and then going on a torrid run to make them again last season, I don't see how Jagr helps. They're building from within, the young guys have a future, so why take their ice time away with a quick fix. Though he'd help the 2nd power play unit, teams have a tendency to rely on veterans at the expense of letting kids figure it out. Furthermore, offensive depth really isn't their Achilles' Heel. I thought Elliott was a perfect fit, he undoubtedly had a poor season, so goaltending is more of a need.
11 Should: Chicago Blackhawks
He might be able to kill three birds with one stone on this one. First, he could add another Original 6 jersey to his man cave. He should also be able to put up decent stats by moving between the 1st and 2nd lines and seeing power play minutes. Chicago has enough play makers and finishers that he could pose real matchup problems for opposing coaches and defensemen. He would fit in with the veteran team and LOVE playing there. Listening to Jim Cornelison sing the anthem would inject him with youth, fire, and remind him what a real hockey city is all about.
Finally, Chicago's nucleus probably has 1-2 more cup runs in them and I can't understand why he hasn't offered his discounted services to the Windy City. In fact, he could bribe Bettman and league officials who'd love the hype and attention to rename all the divisions. Long live the Norris!
10 Should not: Columbus Blue Jackets
Though you could argue the veteran's presence could have helped the Jackets keep their cool and not crumble so easily to the Penguins, this would not be a healthy relationship. Like Calgary, Columbus has a lot of young talent that needs to face the deep waters as a team and grow through these situations. Also, they have some quality veteran leaders and they can be as offensively productive as Jagr. For the extra offensive depth he'd provide, the biggest problem would undoubtedly come between Jagr and Torts. There is no way Jagr, at this point of his career, or ever could handle the temperamental and defensive minded coach. Jagr would never fit in with his system, personality, and he'd regret ever signing there.
9 Should: Montreal Canadiens
How could he not want to play for Montreal? Just to experience the city, passion, and prestige, has got to be on his, and many others' list. Playing in Montreal would also cross off another original 6 team. Though the window on winning a cup is closing, and offensively he wouldn't push them any closer as a true contender, he'd certainly see top 6 minutes, shifts with the man advantage, and score 40 points. But this is what I don't get about #68.
His career is on life support, the stats he's accumulating are meaningless, so why not get the most out of the few years he has left. Is he just that happy in Miami which I respect, or is he afraid that he can't up his game, handle the media, or the pressure of meaningful competition?
8 Should not: New York Rangers
Jagr already spent three years on Broadway, and they were probably three of his best seasons outside of his years with Lemieux in Pittsburgh. In his 2nd year as a Ranger, in 2005-6, 11 years ago, it was the last time he scored over 100 points with 123, and the last time he'd score over 31 goals with 54. But those numbers really meant nothing as he only played three playoff games as they were swept by the Devils in the first round. He already has the jersey of this Original 6 franchise, and with the Rangers on the brink of closing the Lundqvist era, he doesn't fit. The Rangers need to get younger and faster all over the ice, and Jagr has nothing to offer them.
7 Should: Toronto Maple Leafs
We complete Jagr's quest for another Full House to play with all the teams from the Original 6, and of all the teams the Leafs could be the most exciting. Playing in Toronto and wearing the Leaf would endear him to the second city in Canada and expose him to some of the best rivalries in the league. But it could also rejuvenate the vet by playing with one of the youngest and most exciting teams in the league. He could line up on any of the top 3 lines, see power play minutes, and skate with Matthews, Marner, Nylander, and Kapanen. He may even be able to convince the fathers of the latter two to come out of retirement. The Leafs don't seem ready to take a step back and miss the playoffs, so he would also have a chance to play a significant role on a team that could make a playoff push.
6 Should Not: San Jose Sharks
He'd feel at home playing with some key Shark veterans like Thornton and Marleau (if they stay), he'd love their crowd and hitting the ice through the shark mouth, but it would be a miserable season for him. The last few seasons in Florida were relatively easy on the 45-year-old's body because they don't play meaningful, aggressive, rivalry division games with hockey hate. But one season with the Sharks would add three seasons worth of punishment to his body. Every game against the Sharks, the opponent has something to prove. With the likes of Anaheim, the Kings, and Edmonton, Jagr would find the ice and space instantly smaller. He was never a contact player, and his old bones wouldn't hold up in a division that hits to hurt everyone on the ice.
5 Should: Dallas Stars
Jagr played for the Stars for the first half of the 2012-13 season where he had 35 points in 45 games. But this year, the Stars brought in Hitchcock to coach, Bishop to hopefully solve their disastrous goaltending problems, and this has "Win Now" written all over it. With Seguin and Benn not getting any younger, changes could be on the horizon. Jagr could be a good fit here, especially on the 2nd line and 2nd power play unit. Though he'd be forced to play a much more defensive role, and the pressure Hitch puts on his players is intense, it depends on what Jagr wants. If he's playing for a chance to win the cup at the expense of top line minutes and points, things could work out this time around.
4 Should Not: Pittsburgh Penguins
I don't think the Penguins would be against it. Crosby could always use a veteran winger even though he seems to do just fine with anyone on his line. But as the Pens move forward and tweak their lineup, Jagr could fit on the top 3 lines and play with the man advantage. But something tells me this has been talked about and if it hasn't happened yet, there has to be a reason. That reason, I bet, seems to lay with Jagr and his ego. When he first retired after 2008 and returned in 2011, that would have been the perfect season for him to return home to Pitt. But he ended up in Philly and couldn't work out a deal to play with Crosby, to fill the net, and play for a championship. Now, it seems the ties have been cut and a return seems unlikely.
3 Should: Nashville Predators
Forget about the Fred Flintstone like logo and the ugly uniforms, Nashville has earned the right to be respected as a quality NHL city. Even if they don't repeat this year's success, a downtown arena in the heart of Music City seems like a great draw for a player. Jagr's lungs would certainly get a work out in Laviolette's system, but they have offensive weapons upfront and on defense. Jagr could find a nice little spot on the 2nd or 3rd line, see quality power play time, and score some points. Plus, their high octane offense might remind him of the fun he had with the Pens and rejuvenate his game. Plus, he'd surely have fun and a chance to seek revenge on Sid and the Pens, especially after this series.
2 Should Not: Florida Panthers
It's kind of difficult to understand the love affair between Jagr and the Panthers. I can see how Jagr could fall for Miami's lifestyle, beaches, weather, and nightlife, but for the life of me, I don't get why he wants to play there at the end of his career. Though Panther writers hate when others rip the team for their lack of fan support, the truth is simple. Unless the team is killing it and makes the playoffs, people don't go. It's confusing why he wears their sweater because his Cup chances and scoring chances are slim, and he plays before a half-hearted fan base. It's equally confusing why Panther management wants him. He may be likeable, but his presence does not show on the score sheet, standings, or attendance. There has got to be a player that can be more productive, and one in the system that deserves a chance.
1 Should: Edmonton Oilers
The opportunity to play with great young talent, from McDavid down the line, should be appealing enough for him to join the Oil. He should play on the power play, in the top 6, and though he's not physical, his possession skills and strength could cause mayhem against the "heavy teams" out West. Draisaitl is likely to play at centre next season and Eberle is rumored to be on the move, so Jagr would essentially either be playing alongside McDavid or Draisaitl. Not bad.
He'd also get a chance to make the payoffs, have a deep run, and play for an loyal, crazed fan base. You would think with his relatively low salary and contract demands this would be a fit worth exploring. Why isn't it? Enigma.
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