We have fond memories of Jaromir Jagr's time in Philadelphia, and when he signed with the Dallas Stars as a free agent last summer, we were sad. Sure, the contract was probably a bit too expensive and all things considered it was probably a smart move to let him walk instead of matching Dallas' $4.5 million offer. But Jagr's year in orange and black was a fun one, and none of us would have minded him in town for another season.
What about half a shortened season, though? Pierre LeBrun lit that fire on Wednesday, and then Frank Seravalli at the Daily News threw fuel on it, raising the question of whether or not the Flyers could reacquire Jagr in a trade. There's no doubt that Jagr made Claude Giroux a better player last year -- and some have chalked G's downturn this year to the fact that he's no longer playing with Jagr, a debatable assertion in my view -- and you could make the argument that picking Jagr up again could help the Flyers in their playoff chase.
Sports Club Stats has the Flyers at a 6.1 percent chance of making the playoffs as of this writing, (up 0.7 percent from Tuesday's calculation!), and given that, I'm of the opinion that the Flyers shouldn't be trading assets on rental players. The same would apply for Brendan Morrow, another Stars player the Flyers are also reportedly interested in picking up, or any other rental player that might hit the market.
But we all know the Philadelphia Flyers. It's not in their blood to concede the season, and they'll probably make a move like this to try and get them over the hump. So could Jagr help? What would he cost? I asked Brandon Worley from SB Nation's Dallas Stars blog, Defending Big D, to help us sort through here.
BSH: Is Jagr on the trade block? If so, why?
DBD: I don't think he's on the "trade block" is so far that the Stars are actively shopping him. The tricky part of this situation is that both the Stars and Jagr are going to be patient on his plans for after this season; there's a good chance Dallas wants him to return next season, but that decision will have to wait until this summer. So, Jagr is a pending UFA and there's a good chance he either retires (I think he returns) or then joins another team as a free agent.
So the Stars could listen to offers and I'd guess discuss such possibilities with Jagr leading up to the deadline.
What would it take for the Flyers to get him back via trade?
Probably a second round pick or a mid-level prospect, or a combination of both. I don't think Jagr would fetch an NHL roster player at this point, considering his age and UFA status. But he's certainly valuable and any team that wants to trade for him is going to have to overpay to get him from the Stars -- who, as I mentioned above, are not actively shopping him. So why a high pick may sound like too high a price to pay, the Stars are certainly not going to just give him away for free.
You have to realize, Jagr has been a marketing boon for Dallas. His jersey is all over the AAC and there's a good chance the big crowds have been due in part to the excitement over signing him. He's certainly a very popular player in Dallas already.
How has he looked so far this year?
He's up and down. Some shifts he's absolutely dominant and does things you'd never expect any player at all capable of, other times he disappears completely. He hasn't seemed to really find good chemistry with any one player on the ice, and he and Jamie Benn have now been separated after the top line became a defensive sieve.
Jagr is just too slow to really keep up with a hard backcheck and gets a ton of offensive zone starts, as well as power play time. He's certainly added some very real offensive firepower to the power play and he's more than capable of creating space and making plays out of nothing -- which seems to sometimes surprise his linemates and a great scoring chance is then wasted.
I wonder sometimes if the style the Stars are playing this season (dump and chase, which is infuriating at times) does not do well to play to his strengths. Jagr likes to hold the puck and create plays from the boards, which clashed with Benn's style of wanting to hold the puck and create plays on his own. He's now playing with Reilly Smith and Cody Eakin and he's having trouble keeping up with their aggressive, forechecking style.
Overall, though...he's still magical.
His biggest strength in Philly was the ability to hold the puck and create space for Claude Giroux. Are those skills he's possessed this year?
As I mentioned above, yes. It became clear that he and Jamie Benn just play too similar a style to really build the same chemistry Jagr had with Giroux last season. It will be interesting to see if he can start to really create some plays and space for Smith and Eakin, who are both good puck possession forward with good finishing ability.
Why shouldn't we be interested in him?
The price, perhaps? He's healthy right now, but has had groin and back issues. I also wonder why the Flyers would want to give up assets for Jagr, who could likely be a rental, in a season in which Philly doesn't appear to be headed to the postseason (no offense).