FEATURE | Jaromir Jagr, Should The Canadiens Sign Him?

Jaromir Jagr (Photo by Timothy T. Ludwig / USA TODAY Sports)

by Matt Smith, Staff Writer/Social Media Specialist, All Habs Hockey Magazine

Jaromir Jagr, Right Wing, Florida Panthers (NHL)
February 15, 1972 | Kladno, Czech Republic
6-3, 230 lbs. | Shoots Left

With training camps opening around the league, and free agent frenzy a thing of the past, it’s astonishing that Jaromir Jagr remains an unrestricted free agent.

Since being drafted 5th overall by the Pittsburgh Penguins during the 1990 NHL Entry Draft, behind Owen Nolan, Petr Nedved, Keith Primeau and Mike Ricci, Jaromir Jagr has had an extraordinary career, and will without a doubt be inducted into the Hockey Hall Of Fame as one of the greatest hockey players of all time.

1711 career NHL games, scoring 765 goals and 1149 assists, Jagr’s 1914 career points are second to only Wayne Gretzky, and somehow he’s still without a contract for the 2017-2018 regular season. Jagr also sits 3rd all-time in goals (765), 5th in assists (1149), 1st in career game winning goals (135), and is just 57 games away from being the leader for career games played, behind only Ron Francis (1731), Mark Messier (1756) and Gordie Howe (1767).

If those numbers aren’t good enough for a contract, which they should be, then maybe I should also list the awards Jagr has won over his career.

Jaromir Jagr is a two-time Stanley Cup Champion, Olympic Gold Medalist, two-time World Championship Gold Medalist, three-time Ted Lindsay Award winner (Pearson), five-time Art Ross winner, the 1998-1999 Hart Trophy winner, and was also the 2015-2016 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy winner.

A lot to write on a resume, but his career speaks for itself, Jaromir Jagr is arguably one of the best players to ever play in the National Hockey League, and he has done so while playing for eight different NHL teams.

They include: Pittsburgh Penguins, Washington Capitals, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, Dallas Stars, Boston Bruins, New Jersey Devils, and most recently the Florida Panthers, who have decided to move on from Jagr.

Could Jaromir Jagr add a 9th NHL team to his impressive NHL resume, perhaps adding a Canadian franchise to the list? Could that team be the Montreal Canadiens? If so, The Travelling Jagrs will require a new member.

For the past two seasons, Jaromir Jagr has played for the Florida Panthers, in that time he has played all but 3 games, scoring 43 goals, adding 69 assists for 112 points. Even though his numbers dropped last season, scoring 16 goals and 30 assists, those numbers still demonstrate that Jagr can be an effective player at the NHL level. I truly believe those stats would be higher if the Florida Panthers were a healthier team, as the team missed the playoffs, with Aleksander Barkov playing just 61 games, and Jonathan Huberdeau playing 31.

In terms of a contract, it’s hard to say how that would look. Last season, Jagr was signed to a one-year, $4 million contract, with performance bonuses. I would assume any contract Jagr signed at this point would be of a lower value, but be heavy in terms of performance based bonuses. The Montreal Canadiens currently have $8.4 million in cap space, and could easily afford to sign him to a one-year deal.

A professional try-out (PTO) is also an option, but at this point in his career, I believe that we’d have a higher chance of seeing Jagr return to play in Europe than sign a PTO. I just don’t see a player of his caliber accepting a try-out, after proving year after year that he is among the best players of all time.

When it comes to where he could be used in the Montreal Canadiens lineup, I look at the third line, next to Tomas Plekanec, who struggled last season with just 10 goals and 28 points, his lowest point total since his rookie season (29), in 2005-2006. This would provide depth scoring to the Canadiens bottom six, possibly rejuvenate fellow Czech Tomas Plekanec, and allow Jagr to play fewer minutes than he was playing with the Florida Panthers, against lesser competition. Last season Jagr averaged 17 minutes per game, he would not be expected to play that much with the Canadiens, but would more than likely be added to a power-play unit, as he is still one of the best puck protectors in the league, and extremely strong along the boards.

Marc Bergevin took a chance last season signing Russian forward Alexander Radulov, a player many fans did not care for when the signing was announced, but as we all know, Radulov ended up being one of the best players for the Montreal Canadiens, as well as a fan favorite, finishing second in points (54), behind only Max Pacioretty (67).  

With the Canadiens at risk of losing players such as Charles Hudon and Jacob De La Rose to waivers this season, and Michael McCarron trying to solidify a position in the Canadiens lineup on a full time basis, the chances of signing Jaromir Jagr is slim as a player such as Andrew Shaw ($3.9M cap hit) or Paul Byron (22 goals last season), would more than likely be moved to a 4th line role to accommodate Jagr in the lineup.

With $8.4 million in cap space available, and a team lacking in offense, could the Montreal Canadiens sign the future Hall of Famer?

What are your thoughts Habs fans? Please comment below!

  • Stefan Allain

    He could definitely provide some scoring punch that the Habs lacked so much of the past few years. But at what cost?
    Bergevin needs that strong physical C, or something to fill that gap. If either Drouin, Pleks or even Danault go down early in the season…who’s going to fill in?
    Habs dept chart is hurting to say the least, and if this is a “go for it year” we need depth to go long this season or even the next.

  • Luboš Javůrek

    Yes, yes, yes, yes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!