Detroit Red Wings: Jaromir Jagr Wants to Wear the Winged Wheel

Jordan MatthewsAnalyst IIIJune 16, 2011

Jaromir Jagr wants to return to the NHL after three years in the KHL.
Jaromir Jagr wants to return to the NHL after three years in the KHL.Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Rumors have been swirling for the last month or so that Jaromir Jagr wants to make a return to the NHL, but the news broke yesterday that Jagr would prefer to play in the Motor City.

Ken Holland hasn't said anything about it other than confirming that he was talking to Jagr's agent, but would signing Jagr be a good decision for Holland or a foolish one?

Detroit already has 12 forwards under contract, including Jan Mursak and Corey Emmerton, plus unrestricted free agents Patrick Eaves and Drew Miller, who Holland wishes to bring back for another year.

In addition to those forwards, Holland also has to make a decision on 40-year-old Kris Draper, and for a team that has always made an attempt to stay loyal to its long-term veteran players, kicking Draper out while signing Jagr wouldn't be the greatest way to keep that reputation.

Jagr was certainly a good player in his prime and was a point-per-game player in the KHL over the last three years, but his play could still be questioned.

For starters, the NHL is a much rougher league to play in than the KHL, and you could inquire as to whether Jagr's body can readjust to the high level of physicality.

Secondly, Detroit fans know all about point-per-game KHL players. Just ask any Wings fan how impressed they were with Jiri Hudler's past season in Detroit, and the majority of the time you won't get a very pleasant response.

But even if Jagr's quality isn't great, he could fill the veteran role as a mentor to young players like Mursak, Justin Abdelkader and Darren Helm, much like Brett Hull did eight years ago with Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg. There's certainly room for veteran teaching, but you have to question whether Detroit can fit Jagr into its lineup as well.

Detroit would have the option of trading two of its forwards for a defenseman it sorely needs. Rumors have been swirling that Hudler has been on the trade block. In addition, Emmerton would have to clear waivers in order to be sent down to Grand Rapids, and considering how unlikely that is, Detroit might be further ahead to move him.

The benefits of trading both could be enormous. Detroit could get a good young defender like Zach Bogosian in Winnipeg, and they would open room to possibly sign Jagr, Eaves, Miller or Draper.

Whatever Detroit does, I think the most important factor it has to keep in mind is the one I mentioned earlier—its reputation. Signing Jagr while telling Draper he can't play wouldn't look good to the players who admire Detroit's loyalty to its veterans.

While Jagr would certainly be the better decision for this year, you have to question whether or not this could hurt Detroit's free agent appeal in the long run.