By: Wes Herrmann (@Wes_Herrm)
Philadelphia Flyers fans really don’t need a reason to bring back Jaromir Jagr. Unfortunately that may make this post completely unnecessary.
Jagr is a legend — both on the ice and off it. He has the second most points in NHL history and will be a Hall of Famer as soon as he’s eligible. His sound bites are always hits across the internet and if there was hockey hall of fame for a Twitter account, he’d probably be a shoe-in for that also.
Unsurprisingly, at 45 years old, Jagr has slowed down lately and last season was one of his worst statistically. Through his first 17 games last season, the Czech Republic native had just six points. He ended the season with 46 points in 82 games, but the years seem to finally be catching up.
But that doesn’t mean that Jagr is done — especially when it comes to off-ice intangibles. For Philly, that’s where the one-time Flyer could make his biggest impact.
Since returning from the KHL in 2011, Jagr has helped guide and grow a handful of young superstars. The list includes Claude Giroux, Jake Voracek, Jamie Benn, Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov.
This season, the Flyers should have Nolan Patrick, the second overall pick in 2017, and Oskar Lindblom, a winger who plays a power forward game similar to Jagr’s, on their roster. Philly saw first-hand the impact Jagr had on Giroux and Voracek. Having the right winger around for the next generation could make a huge difference.
That’s all without mentioning that Jagr would give a boost to this year’s team, which is on the bubble of playoff contention.
But persuading Flyers fans — and hopefully management — isn’t the hard part. It’s persuading Jagr and making room for him.
Since leaving Philadelphia at the end of the 2011-12 season, Jagr has gone to places that have offered him top-six playing time and money. In the five seasons since, the longtime Penguin has never averaged fewer than 17 minutes of ice time a game or made less than $4 million a season.
With a logjam at offense, Philly would have a tough time convincing or giving Jagr more than third-line minutes. But the Flyers could offer a reunion of him and Giroux if there is interest from both sides.
On top of that, if Jagr is brought in, separate moves would have to be made. According to CapFriendly, the Flyers have $3.3 million in cap space. The roster isn’t perfect on the site (15 forwards and five defensemen listed), but the final roster should be in that ballpark.
The Flyers wouldn’t offer Jagr a $2 or $3 million deal due to restrictions with cap space in case of injuries. A trade involving Dale Weise or Matt Read, which Hextall should be exploring with or without Jagr, would be necessary.
Even then, it’s hard to imagine Hextall offering a contract much larger than $3 million. If Jagr wants to play in Philadelphia, he’ll have to take a pay cut. Considering it’s August and he doesn’t have a contract, that shouldn’t be out of the question.
Signing Jagr to a contract would require several hoops to be jumped, including cap space, contract and playing time, but if Hextall wants to help the present team and the future, the Czech legend can only help.