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WWYD Wednesday: Sign Jaromir Jagr?

It’s the middle of August and a couple of things still haven’t happened yet: the Calgary Flames haven’t bolstered their suspect winger depth and Jaromir Jagr hasn’t signed with an NHL team.

On the surface, it seems like a natural marriage. Calgary’s RW depth is particularly shallow and Jagr is looking to play at least one more season in the league before he retires to the Czech Republic. In reality, however, there are likely certain obstacles standing in the way of the two getting together.

The question is, are those issues insurmountable?

Let’s get this out of the way: it’s entirely possible that Jagr has no interest in playing in Calgary. It’s cold in the winter, we’re not a “global” city like New York, and there’s a lot of travel during the season. For now, we’ll assume his options are limited enough – and that his interest in sticking around the NHL is earnest enough – that Calgary is considered an option.

We’ll also establish that Jagr is still a quality hockey player, at least according to his results last year. He finished fourth in Panthers scoring with 46 points in 82 games, just eight back of team leader Vincent Trochek. The season before last, he scored 27 goals and 66 points.

In addition, all of Jagr’s underlying numbers were above average despite his advanced age:

Jarome Iginla added for context.

As a result, Jagr projects as the kind of guy who could slide onto the third line without much issue:

That said, here are the three considerations that may prevent any of us from buying an official Calgary Flames Jagr jersey this year:

Jagr is old and slow

His results remain above board, but there’s no fighting the fact that Jagr is 45 years old and not all that fleet of foot. This could be a problem from two angles:

  1. He falls off a cliff this year. Jagr has broken the typical aging curve so we can’t be certain of what to expect out of him in 2017-18. Maybe he continues to defy mother nature and be an above average forward. Or maybe he finally gives in to mother nature and drags the Flames’ third line down in Brouwer-like fashion.
  2. His pace is too slow for the Flames system. It’s possible that Glen Gulutzan’s coaching and/or Jagr’s probable linemates require someone who can get around the rink in a timely fashion. Even if Jagr is relatively efficient thanks to his strength and smarts, the team may not be interested in trying to bolt him onto their current processes.

Calgary’s cap problem

The Flames still need to re-sign Sam Bennett and Brett Kulak. They have about $6M in cap space to work with, give or take, which will be a pretty tight fit. Bennett will likely settle in the $2.5-$3M range, leaving $2.5-3M for Jagr and Kulak combined. With almost no cap space left to manage things during the season.

Maybe Jagr is desperate enough to accept a cheap, bonus-ladened deal to help out? Then again, maybe not.

Room for the kids

As things currently stand, Calgary has maybe one spot on the team for a young player. Here’s how the depth chart settles out currently:

Gaudreau – Monahan – Ferland

Tkachuk – Backlund – Frolik

Versteeg – Bennett – Lazar

? – Stajan – Brouwer

Freddie Hamilton

On the fringes, the Flames have Mark Jankowski and Spencer Foo pushing for a spot on the parent club, with other darkhorses including Hunter Shinkaruk and Andrew Mangiapane. Garnet Hathaway is also a guy who could battle for 13th forward duty.

If Calgary signs Jagr, however, it closes up any immediate opportunities for the organization’s hopefuls. Of course, injuries happen and can make for an impromptu chance for a kid to move up, but those gaps can be random and often short lived.

On the other hand, take a look at that depth chart again, and imagine what would happen if just one or two of the Flames’ top six wingers were injured for any length of time. Things get awfully thin in a hurry, so there is an argument to be made either way.

Conclusion

Jagr seems like he could be a cheap, capable solution to the Flames’ depth problem, but there are risks worth considering. Not only is the player relatively old and and slow, the Flames have a tenuous cap situation and kids pushing for promotion.

So what would you do? If you could sign Jagr and fit him under the Flames’ cap… would you?

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        • madjam

          You might be right , as Jesse “James” Puljujarvi might break out this year and beat McDavid and Draisaitl in scoring race like he did in juniors beating Laine and Matthews in many tournaments . At least Flame fans can get their fill of this talent being in the Pacific division . Oilers might look like Mutt and Jeff if Yamamoto was to play with Jesse . Oilers seem to have a pipeline of elite talent coming . Brings back memories of Ventures instrumental “Pipeline “.

          • TheoForever

            Juicy may break out in hives too. What tournaments are you speaking off. You comparing a prospect who got demoted to AHL with NHL players. Yamo, hahaha, keep dreaming….. With you everything comes out roses for coilers, your own writers are laughing at that.

      • Northernlights

        Wouldn’t signing Jagr create competition on the wing? What’s wrong with that? I’m sure he can offer a lot of leadership to young players,even to guys like Gaudreau,and Monahan who are still young and learning.

        • Flames fan since 83

          Northern Lights, in the case of a signing like this, you don’t dont sign Jagr to be competitive. You sign him to fill a spot, period. The question is: Has Jagr ability deteriorated to a point where he is now ONLY competitive with what we already have. (and I think that is where it ends up, and therefore no thanks)
          As far as leadership, there is value in that dept. However, leadership is not an issue for Calgary. Gio, Stajan, Backlund, Versteeg are top end leaders. And then another wave of solid young leaders in Sean, Johnny, D Hamilton, Brodie.
          From my heart, I would love a Calgary Flames Jagr jersey! But my brain says pass.

          • Northernlights

            While there is leadership there is not one person on the team with the resume of Jagr. Jagr had 46 points last year on a crappy team. I’m sure you could use a 50 point forward on your team. This is may be over the hill but not in hockey terms and if you can sign him to a decent dollar amount then I think you would, but then again I’m not sure he would come in on the cheap?

          • Flames fan since 83

            I agree about Jagr resume. But not having an equal on a team could be said about 95% of the other teams in the league.
            We could use 50 points, but I honestly don’t think Jagr will score 50. (my opinion)
            Money wise, I do think he doesn’t prefer our climate or our travel levels. So, we would have to pay more to lure him. But the longer he is without a contract, the price goes down.
            I also think that playing with Connor would have a bigger draw. Why not Edmonton?

        • Carl the tooth

          We got Giordano our captain he’s old enough . No more Dinosaurs,Flames is historic to signings players on there last legs (Amonte) housley . Steve smith . Bertuzzi .mortison .raymond . On and on no more !!!

  • Carl the tooth

    Is this a weekly article now ? ON just did a jagr one too. I think we can do better .lets go with . Phil Kessel trade? Again? Hmmmmmmm. Let me see ….
    Backlund for kessel ?