Jaromir Jagr Free-Agent Rumors: 5 Reasons He'll Likely Test the Market
Philly.com’s Sam Carchidi believes that future Hall of Famer Jaromir Jagr is prepared to walk after only one year in Philadelphia, though it was Jagr’s lack of answer that convinced Carchidi the right winger won’t be returning to the City of Brotherly Love.
According to Carchidi, Jagr had the opportunity to declare that he wanted to play in Philadelphia and did not take advantage, and while that may seem like flimsy evidence to conclude that No. 68 will not return, the Flyers and Jagr nonetheless find themselves at a crossroads where both sides may benefit from parting ways.
While Jagr’s time in Philly has made for more than its share of fun, the Flyers have a bright future and every reason to invest in their young talent instead of wily veterans.
Jagr Showed His Age in the Playoffs
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The signing of Jaromir Jagr was a minor but significant source of controversy in Philadelphia last summer. The Czech superstar had spent three seasons away from the NHL and was subjected to questions about his health, ability and role on the team.
Of course, Jagr’s work ethic quickly proved to be invaluable for a team full of young players, and his regular-season contributions exceeded expectations drastically. His 54 points were good for third on the team, making him a key player for the Flyers come playoff time.
However, in the postseason, Jagr’s 40 years finally caught up with him. Though he managed a respectable eight points in 11 games, Jagr scored only one goal and seemed to be a non-factor when the team most desperately needed veteran leadership.
In 2012-13, 40 will become 41 for Jagr, and the Flyers have seen firsthand that investing in an aging player, even one of Jagr’s caliber, comes with complications.
The Flyers Are Confident about Their Future
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GMPaul Holmgren signed Jaromir Jagr at above-market price despite a history in Philadelphia that can be described as anything but pleasant.
Why was Jagr so valuable to Holmgren? Simply put, he was a role model, and the new-look Flyers desperately needed the presence of a veteran forward in the locker room. While trying to build a team around players like Brayden Schenn, Sean Couturier and Jakub Voracek, Holmgren wanted to be sure his youngsters knew where to look for guidance.
Holmgren’s plan could not have worked better; the team became heavily reliant on many of its young players, and the squad that some “experts” predicted would miss the playoffs in the midst of a “retooling” year spent most of the season competing for a division title and ultimately finished with the third best record in the Eastern Conference.
The Flyers will begin 2012-13 with many of the same young players who now have an added year of experience under their belts. Jagr’s almost fatherly role on the team has become unnecessary, as boys have become men.
Veterans are still valuable for this squad, but the Flyers are no longer perceived as baby birds trying to learn to fly.
The Flyers Have Other Needs to Address
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Given his 54-point performance in 2011-12, the Flyers still perceive Jagr as a valuable asset on the ice and in the locker room. Over 40 or not, the guy can still play, and with Claude Giroux and other key players emerging as offensive workhorses, Jagr could afford to let his age show a little on this team.
Unfortunately for Jagr and the Flyers, there are other offseason questions that need to be addressed (and need to be addressed with cash).
Jakub Voracek, one of the most consistent contributors in both the regular season and the playoffs, is a restricted free agent and will be a focal point for Holmgren in the offseason. Matt Carle remains a question as well, and if he is allowed to walk, the Flyers will be turning their attention to other defensive options.
The Flyers are quickly building one of the most dangerous teams in the league, and a significant move or two in free agency could make this team lethal. Having signed for $3.3 million last year and likely to make a similar amount in 2012-13, Jagr may be seen by the Flyers as an obstacle when it comes to building a championship squad on a limited budget.
Jagr Still Wants to Play
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Jagr isn’t likely to hit the free-agent market simply because the Flyers don’t want him back. The crafty veteran has his own reasons for testing the waters.
Simply put, Jagr wants to keep playing hockey. He called the 2011-12 campaign his “most enjoyable year,” indicating that he isn’t quite ready to hang up the skates. The Flyers utilized him in an exciting role alongside Claude Giroux for most of the season, and Jagr could likely find another team that is willing to treat him as an impressive role-player who brings a little prestige to the franchise.
If the Flyers don’t make room for Jagr, he will take his infectious smile to another locker room and continue to play the game he loves until he is ready to retire.
Jagr Is Always Keeping Things Interesting
Jagr became a fan favorite in Philadelphia, and the affection began with his act of “betrayal” toward the Pittsburgh Penguins, when he shocked the hockey world by ditching his assumed suitors to play for their intrastate rival.
The move made Pens fans irate and Flyers fans laugh, and all the while, Jagr seemed to enjoy the controversy he created by stirring things up a bit.
Now, having spent a year alongside one of hockey’s up-and-coming stars and in a passionate city of diehard hockey fans, wouldn’t Jagr find it just as fun to flip sides again?
That’s not to say that he’ll sign with the Penguins or Rangers, but we all know that Jagr has no qualms about sticking to the unwritten rules of rivalry. If his trademark No. 68 is stitched in different colors next year, don’t be surprised if he gets a little feisty when visiting the Wells Fargo Center.