*UPDATE 10/02/17: Jaromir Jagr signed a one year deal worth a reported $1,000,000 with the Calgary Flames — incentives could reportedly increase it to $2,000,000. The league’s oldest active player will continue his legendary career in the league’s oldest active building — fitting. As promised, I hereby salute the Calgary Flames for making a sensible and logical hockey decision 🙂
As a single malt gets better with age, so to does Jaromir Jagr’s flow — disagree with me on his skills, his hair isn’t even up for debate. I’ll even fight you on the skill argument because despite the fact he entered the league back when Ghost was the highest grossing movie — way back in 19-f*ckin-90 — his recent production indicates he still has the goods to fill a top-six or at least a top-nine role.
Jagr sits 2nd all-time in points — 943 points shy of Gretzky so why even talk about #1, it’s never being broken — and finished last season with 46 points (16G, 30A) while playing in all 82 games. At age 45, staying in the league is an accomplishment in and of itself. Jagr has always been a physical specimen, oftentimes spending sleepless nights in the gym sporting a weighted vest. We all have our ways of staying young I suppose?
In spite of meaningful production & a seemingly unwavering commitment to the game and keeping himself in shape, Jagr’s phone has remained eerily quiet through the off-season. Hard to imagine Jagr requesting anything outside of a one-year deal so the risk would appear to be minimal. 40-60 points on a one-year deal — what’s not to love about that?
A season-ending injury to Robby Fabbri has left the Blues in need of a winger. General Manager Doug Armstrong acknowledged the possibility of adding Jagr, but internal preference is likely to promote from within…classic cap-world mentality. As the Blues evaluate their situation, few other teams seem enamoured with the idea of bringing Jagr in — baffling, and infuriating on some levels — would’ve thought a team like the Habs should’ve strongly considered it given their scoring woes and $8.5M in cap space. Jagr on Crescent Street is the stuff of legends.
Is it a Brett Favre type a deal?
I thought so at first, perhaps training camp was simply off the table but if that were the case, Jagr should’ve likely reported by now given the regular season is slated to begin Oct. 4. At this point, barring an injury, we may have missed our chance to give a farewell salute to one of the game’s G.O.A.T’s.
Before I shed too many tears over this collective act of age-based oppression on behalf of the NHL owner fraternity, let’s take a look at Jagr’s recent numbers to see where and how he could impact the game today. The 100+ point efforts from the 1990s would be nice, but we all know today’s NHL just doesn’t allow for those totals. Points are hard to come by in a system-driven league. It’s not easy to score — don’t ask Ovechkin, ask Scott Gomez (good for one snipe a season towards the end of it all, Gomez was like an alarm clock for one’s annual physical appointment).
The simplest way to illustrate Jagr’s place amongst current NHL players — many of whom grew up watching Jagr in his early years — would be to point out that he was 27th and 32nd in points and points/60 minutes respectively amongst right-wingers in 2016-2017. That puts him in company with the likes of Justin Williams, Rick Nash, Jason Pominville, and even approaches Corey Perry and Alex Radulov in pace and output.
2016-2017 Regular Season
JAGR: 82 GP / 46 P / 0.56 P/GP / 16:59 ATOI / 2.0 P/60 / 4.9 PS
WILLIAMS: 80 GP / 48 P / 0.60 P/GP / 15:28 ATOI / 2.3 P/60 / 6.2 PS
NASH: 67 GP / 38 P / 0.57 P/GP / 16:27 ATOI / 2.1 P/60 / 5.0 PS
POMINVILLE: 78 GP / 47 P / 0.60 P/GP / 14:13 ATOI / 2.5 P/60 / 4.6 PS
PERRY: 82 GP / 53 P / 0.65 P/GP / 17:42 ATOI / 2.1 P/60 / 5.8 PS
RADULOV: 76 GP / 54 P / 0.71 P/GP/ 18:17 ATOI / 2.3 P/60 / 6.1 PS
*P/GP – Points per Game Played
*ATOI – Average Time on Ice
P/60 – Points per 60 minutes in all situations
Jagr is the only unemployed player on that chart. Williams, 35, is signed through 2018-2019 ($4.5M AAV), Nash is entering the final year of his mammoth contract that will pay him $7.8M, signed back in 2009 — he’s due for a substantial pay reduction unless he finds his 2014-2015 form and even still, GM’s aren’t likely to fall in love with him over a contract year resurgence.
Over in Minnesota, Pominville has two years remaining at $5.6M per season, and isn’t young at 34. Corey Perry, 32, a two-time Olympian and probably the most dynamic player on this list, is signed through 20-21 at an AAV of $8.625M. Finally, Alex Radulov, 31, is fresh off signing his new deal with the Dallas Stars — AAV of $6.25M through 21-22. Radulov and some others on the list have modified no-movement clauses but those shouldn’t factor into a potential Jagr deal — you don’t trade Jaromir Jagr unless he requests it. Also, as a GM, trading him may result in a throng of single (or married) ladies storming your front lawn demanding you return their Czech boy toy — The man knows how to live…
A big body and an an absolute terror to get off the puck, Jagr has value at even strength and on special teams, specifically on the man advantage — Jaromir killing penalities haha.
Half of his 16 goals last year came on the man advantage. With his 6’3″, 230 lbs frame and a reach that would leave some basketball players jealous, he does a lot of his damage around the net in the dirty areas. As analytics guru Mike Kelly explains in the below video, Jagr was a victim of some bad luck last year and if it weren’t for some unfortunate bounces, his numbers would’ve been even more impressive than they already are — HE’S 45!
Closer to being the slowest skater in the league than he is the fastest, Jagr still boasts impressive possession metrics — an even strength Corsi rating of 55.4%, and with the man-advantage that percentage rockets up to 92.4%. A quick comparison to Radulov, who played 10 fewer minutes on the PP last season, and Jagr’s numbers exceed those put up by the Russian.
Age is just a number, and in a league where 30 is the new 40 and players continue to get younger and younger, a 45 year old legend has shown he has all the reason to believe he can still compete and contribute to winning hockey, and do so amongst a group of players who more than likely grew up idolizing him.
As the season approaches, I hope Jagr finds a willing dance partner. Hell, start making the team-branded mullets right now, the revenue will help pay his service fee — marketing genius aside, his continued on-ice value, combined with the low-risk nature of a one-year ~$3-4M deal he’d likely command (last season he made $5.515M with a cap hit of $4.0M) — call me crazy, but I may be willing to entertain a player option at half the price of the 1st year if the NHL had such a thing.
All hypothetical situations aside, the NHL is a better place with Jaromir Jagr in it. A crazy thing to say in the year 2017 when you consider when the ride started — back in 1990. Call me greedy but I’m not ready for the ride to end and will gladly salute whichever owner or GM lets me stay on it.
Main Photo Credit: Robert Mayer/USA Today Sports
Stats courtesy of NHL.com