NHL Rumors: 5 Reasons Why Jaromir Jagr to the Detroit Red Wings Shouldn't Happen
There was a time when the headline "Jaromir Jagr is Interested in Joining the Detroit Red Wings" would have sent me through the roof with excitement. That isn't the case these days, and Red Wings fans should do their best to temper their attitudes towards this shiny new addition to the right side.
Jagr has name recognition like few other players from the last two decades of play, and should be considered among one of the best to have ever played the game.
But next season he shouldn't be a Red Wing.
Here are five reasons why.
The Red Wings Don't Need the Offense That Jagr Provides
Jagr scored 19 goals and had 32 helpers through 49 games in the KHL last season.
Not bad numbers for a player who is a bit long in the tooth, and if Detroit were looking to shore up a forward core that was having an issue in the offensive zone this is a deal I'd be a lot more interested in.
But Detroit isn't hurting on offense.
They were second overall in goals per game with 3.13, trailing only the Canucks in that category. While he may be solid in the neutral zone, this isn't the kind of back-checking forward that the Red Wings should be looking to add.
And speaking of checking forwards, how would Kris Draper feel if he was told to head on home with a nice pat on the back as Jagr took his spot in the lineup? He probably wouldn't be doing handstands, and may be even less likely to join Detroit's front office after retiring—an area they are hurting a bit in after losing two assistant coaches in a months time.
Dreaming of Jagr playing alongside Pavel Datsyuk of Henrik Zetterberg has fans salivating. And it's a tempting notion. If he clicked on the right side of Pav, it could make for one of the deeper, more explosive and creative top-six in the NHL.
But the Wings already have that, and these dreams need to stay just that.
Detroit doesn't need to spend their money up front. They have more pressing needs elsewhere.
There Are Too Many Good Free Agent Defensemen Available
I've read a few articles stating that this particular crop of free agents isn't a particularly good one. I disagree. While there may not be a glut of offensive fire power available, there are several high quality defensemen available come July 1st.
Signing one or two of them could go a long way toward helping Detroit's blueline make the smooth transition into a season with no Brian Rafalski. And we still haven't heard a decision from the Lidstrom camp either.
Those are two top-pairing, minute munching defensemen that will need to be replace within a season or two of each other. Those holes can never be filled fully, but the need must still be addressed.
As such, Jagr should be the last thing on management's mind. With these two in the lineup the Wings still had the 23rd worst goals-against per game in the league.
Fans should tremor at the idea of how bad things could get should Lidstrom retire, much less if Detroit fails to stop the bleeding on the blueline.
James Wisniewski, Joni Pitkanen, Kevin Bieksa, Tomas Kaberle, Christian Ehrhoff, Eric Brewer, and Andrei Markov are all slated for free agency. Those signings may not be as sexy as Jagr's would be, but it would still help Detroit where they need it the most.
And that's in their own zone.
There Are Plenty of Options Available to Plug Holes at Forward
Even if Jagr settled for a $2 or $3 million dollar contract to play with the Wings—which I honestly doubt— there are free agent options I would like to see Holland explore outside of Jags that I think could be a greater benefit to Detroit.
A guy like Brooks Laich would be an unquestionable boon for the squad. He is an outstanding second line player that can be used in numerous ways. Laich can put the puck in the net in a top-six role, be an energy or shutdown player in the bottom-six, and run the point on the power play.
This isn't a slight to Jagr and his obvious capabilities.
I just feel like there are younger, more suitable options available. While signing a guy like Laich may be a stretch (he is sure to get some strong offers from teams like Toronto and Edmonton), landing a player like Chad LaRose, Chris Higgins, Erik Cole, or even Jussi Jokinen would be a much better fit for the Wings up front.
Jagr is a name, and is still a good player. But he doesn't fit the role that the Wings need. More pucks in the back of the net are not going to put this team into the Cup Finals again.
These names are not nearly as attractive and may not put any butts in the seats, but they are the kinds of depth signings that will put Detroit back into contention in the West. And I still would rather see Patrick Eaves come back over bringing Jagr in.
If anything, the Wings need a bit more jam at forward. While Jagr has the size and speed to fit into the system, Detroit may be better off to go with a more physical presence.
If Jagr Signs, He Will Be Taking a Roster Spot from an Up-and-Comer
I may be crazy, but I'd rather see what kind of damage Jan Mursak and Darren Helm could do on a checking line together than see Jagr take up the right wing on one of Detroit's top two lines.
Patrick Eaves probably wouldn't be back with the addition of Jagr, and that makes this one or two year rental even more unattractive to me. As good as he is, I doubt Jags could take up the defensive role that Eaves currently plays, both at even strength and on the penalty kill.
Not to mention the youngsters who have been boding their time in the minors. This isn't the time for the Red Wings to get older and more grey in the beards. It's time for Mursak to land a permanent roster sport, and for Tomas Tatar, Gustav Nyquist, and Teemu Pulkkinen to get serious looks.
While there is a high chance that Pulkkinen will head back to the SM-Liiga for one more season, perhaps he could be convinced to stick around for a lion's share of the minutes. Minutes that Jagr would only impede upon.
I realize that a high percentage of Detroit's prospects are centers, but I'd rather give one of them a shot on the wing than see them have to kill another year of their entry level deal in the minors. If the kids are ready, then lets see them with the big club.
This has two obvious benefits: one is to help the players continue to develop as a pro. To learn the NHL game, they have to play on the NHL level. Not to mention this may be the last season they have to learn from the consummate professional in Lidstrom.
And the second is to allow Ken Holland and co. to better understand what they have as they move towards the future.
The KHL Corrodes Talent
The argument that Jagr was competitive in the Olympics and the Worlds is a flawed one.
Being effective over a short tournament is very different than doing the same over the course of 82-plus games. Not to mention that some of the best players around were still in the playoffs during the Worlds.
Those all-star teams also lack the chemistry and identity that the better NHL teams boast.
So the only sample we have of Jagr's game is against (mostly) players who don't have the skill set to make it to the best hockey league in the world. That makes me nervous, as it should any Wings fan.
It was only the passed season we witnessed how damaging time in the KHL can be to an NHL hopeful. Jiri Hudler saw a 13-goal drop off upon returning to the Red Wings. And it wasn't because he didn't have the chance to be a top line guy.
Heading into the season he was penciled in on the second line, and could have easily been skating on the first from time to time. He instead sank down the depth-chart and failed to find his game.
Hudler isn't the rule, but he should be a cautionary tale for teams looking to bring skaters back to the NHL after they have spent time in Russia.
Some young kids spend time in these Leagues to season their games a bit closer to home, but that isn't nearly the same thing as an NHL-veteran losing his edge against lesser opponents over a three year span.
If the Wings signed Jagr, they'd be looking for a top line guy without knowing if he could be one.
The Reality of the Situation
Ansar Kahn from MLive.com has reported that Jagr's agent reached out to Red Wings management, and not the other way around.
Kahn also reported that Jagr has spoken to both coach Mike Babcock and Kenny Holland, and probably gave both of them something to think about.
If he gave the brain-trust reason to believe that he still has the fire to play, and is willing to be had for considerably less than market value then we could very well see Jags suit up for the Red Wings. Which, contrary to how I may come across, is something that I would find very entertaining.
But as I have stated in several different ways through this article, I feel that the Wings would have to give up more than just money to sign Jagr.
Now, more than ever, is the time for youth to find its way onto this lineup. The age of the team hasn't been so much of a factor in seasons passed, but the time is coming where a lot of familiar faces will be gone.
This won't be a gradual process—within a few seasons the team will have had quite the overhaul in personnel. The time that Jagr takes away from younger players, and the spot he'd take from a guy like Eaves just doesn't seem worth it in my eyes.
Again, the Red Wings don't need help on offense. They need to rebuild their blueline on the fly, and consider the future before reaching back into the past for help.
The only way I can see this move making sense is if they can move Jiri Hudler's contract before or at the draft.
That may or may not prove to be difficult, depending on what Detroit asks for in return. But if it's a minor league player, longshot prospect, or mid-round pick, that would open up enough dollars for the Wings to bring Jagr in up front, and still have plenty of money to repair the blueline and find a backup goaltender.
The feeling has been that the offseason was going to be an interesting one for the Wings. Jagr throwing his name into the mix only adds to the intrigue.