The Flyers are going through a youth movement, so signing 45-year-old year-old free agent Jaromir Jagr might seem to be counterproductive.
On the other hand….
Jagr would supply some veteran leadership on and off the ice, would bolster their power play, and, even at his advanced age, the 6-foot-3, 230-pound right winger could provide room on the ice for whoever is his center — and would probably help as a confidant to Jake Voracek, a fellow Czech.
No. 68 would be a mentor of sorts to young wingers like Travis Konecny, Oskar Lindblom, and Jordan Weal.
Also worth noting: It’s no coincidence that Claude Giroux had his best season (93 points) when Jagr was his linemate in 2011-12.
We interrupt this time-to-inquire-about-bringing-Jagr-back-to-Philadelphia piece for this bulletin from general manager Ron Hextall: It’s not happening.
“That’s just not the direction we’re headed in now,” Hextall said Sunday when asked if he would see if Jagr was interested in being a fourth-line winger and power-play specialist. “I have a great deal of respect for his accomplishments and everything he’s done in the game, but, again, it’s just not the direction we’re going.”
Granted, Jagr, the second-leading scorer in NHL history with 1,914 points, is in decline. He managed just 16 goals last season with Florida, matching his lowest total since he had 15 for the New York Rangers in 2003-04.
But even in an “off” year, Jagr was still a factor. His 16 goals last season were two more than Giroux recorded, and his 46 points would have placed him fifth on the Flyers. He scored eight power-play goals, which would have been third on the Flyers.
On Twitter, Jagr has been poking fun at general managers who have ignored his free-agent status. A few days ago, he tweeted older and younger photos of himself and said: “FA 1994 — all GMs called. FA 2017 — 0 calls.”
He also tweeted: “Everywhere I look, I read: all FA getting calls from 10-12 teams. Me 0 calls. On the contrary, I’m trying to call them, and no one’s picking up.”
He followed it with emoticons of a happy face, a bewildered face, and a Czech Republic flag.
Jagr, who has half-kidded he wants to play beyond age 50, reportedly wants top-six minutes. If he insisted on that, it would have been understandable if Hextall didn’t have room for him. But if he accepted limited minutes and replaced someone like Dale Weise, he could have been a valuable mentor to the young players because of his work ethic, and he could have been a key contributor on the power play.
Hextall said he doesn’t want to box out any young players. But if Jagr was given fourth-line minutes, he wouldn’t be blocking young players like Konecny, Lindblom, or Weal. Jagr probably would have replaced someone like the soon-to-be 29-year-old Weise, who had eight goals and 15 points last season.
From here, it would have made sense to at least kick the tires on Jagr. And if he would have signed a one-year deal for around $1 million — as Scott Hartnell did with Nashville the other day — it would have been beneficial to everyone.
And, hey, as a bonus, it would have been fun to see the Traveling Jagrs — _ a group of dedicated folks who dress up in jerseys from Jagr’s previous teams and wear wigs with his trademark mullet — in Philadelphia again.