Jaromir Jagr is nearing the end of his career, but he is not at the end.
While he went through quite a bit of frustration in the Stanley Cup playoffs—he could not score even one goal—he was not ineffective for the Boston Bruins. He hit a number of posts, was stopped by a series of brilliant saves and he helped set up a number of big goals.
Jagr, 41, has lost a step (or more), but he can still contribute. The free-agent forward is still available, and agent Petr Svoboda is still looking for the best deal he can get for his client.
Jagr has always been interested in getting the best financial deal he could find, and that's not likely to change this time around. However, there are a number of teams that could use Jagr because of his ability to control the puck, make the proper play and provide veteran leadership.
Jagr's ideal location would be a legitimate Stanley Cup contender. Here's our ranking of the top five teams that need Jagr the most.
5. Minnesota Wild: Perhaps going to Minnesota would not interest Jagr, but he would be able to do this team a lot of good. The Wild climbed the ladder in the Western Conference and made the postseason as the No. 8 seed.
A year after the Wild signed Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, it's clear that more work needs to be done. Jagr brings the professionalism that is needed. Even though he couldn't score in the postseason for the Bruins, he has a certain amount of finish that would help the Wild. Additionally, he would create a fear factor for opponents.
They would have to account for him on every key shift in the third period. They don't have to do that for many players on the team now, with the exception of Parise, Suter and Mikko Koivu.
4. Montreal Canadiens: The Canadiens surfaced as a possible destination for Jagr at the start of free agency. When Svoboda identified three teams as being interested in him, he didn't name the other two, but he strongly hinted the Canadiens were one of them.
Jagr has the size and strength that the Canadiens have been lacking. While he can't fly up and down the ice like many of Montreal's fastest players, his ability to position himself properly, take a hit and still control the puck would serve the Canadiens well.
Jagr played with Canadiens center Tomas Plekanec during the lockout in the Czech Republic, and the two have a solid rapport.
3. Ottawa Senators: This is a logical fit for Jagr, since the Senators lost their long-time captain Daniel Alfredsson when he decided to exercise his free-agent rights and sign with the Detroit Red Wings.
Alfredsson made his choice because he thought the Red Wings were closer to a Stanley Cup than the Senators. However, Jagr might not make the same judgement. The Senators played hard all season and made the playoffs despite a slew of injuries and beat the Canadiens in the first round of the playoffs.
Getting a veteran with Jagr's status would help them replace Alfredsson.
2. Buffalo Sabres: The Sabres are a team that's trying to get younger and more aggressive. It seems unlikely that they will be legitimate contenders in the next year or two.
That might keep Jagr from wanting to sign with the Sabres, but it may be just the reason the Sabres want Jagr. According to Greg Wyshynski of Yahoo Sports, the Sabres are interested in Jagr because he is such a hard-working player who is devoted to his off-ice conditioning.
If the Sabres can bring Jagr aboard, general manager Darcy Regier is hoping that Jagr's work ethic will rub off on players that make the roster.
1. Carolina Hurricanes: This could be the best match of all for Jagr. The Hurricanes finished out of the playoffs last year, but they were quite competitive in the first half of the season before goalie Cam Ward got hurt.
The Hurricanes should have Ward back, and backup Anton Khudobin is competent if Ward can't play. But the one thing the Hurricanes don't have is strength at the right wing position. Aside from Alex Semin, the Hurricanes don't have right wings who can score with any kind of consistency. The presence of Jagr could help the Hurricanes become a much more dangerous team.
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