In this second installment of CRM, we will examine the possibility of Jaromir Jagr returning to the National Hockey League this season. It’s been floating around the media that even Jagr himself said he would like to make an NHL comeback, even after only a half a season of being away. He even said in an interview that he would return to play for the Pittsburgh Penguins for league minimum, so that instantly becomes the favorite option. But then of course, there is always his former team, the New York Rangers involved.
Jagr wanted to stay for this season but it was Sather who showed him the door, not unkindly, contract negotiations just didn’t work out. Being that the Rangers are desperate for a true goal scorer, they would definitely want to make a push for him as well. If Jagr’s offer of league minimum applies to New York as well, it’s almost too good to be true, given the Rangers salary cap situation.
Even after saying all of that, I still think it is highly unlikely that Jagr will return to either the Penguins or the Rangers, and theer is one single reason for that; clearing waivers. We all saw it last week with the New York Islanders. At the time they were faced with the conundrum of losing franchise goaltender Rick DiPietro for the entire season (which we now know is fact) and because of this they wanted to bring back a goaltender who had played really well in the prior two seasons as a backup, and that’s Wade Dubielwicz. After expressing their interest, Dubielwicz immediately headed back to the States after his contract in a European hockey league was terminated. He put on his Islander jersey and skated with the team in practice only to find out that once he got out of the showers he would be headed to Columbus.
Because Bluejackets goaltender Pascal Leclaire also suffered a long term injury, they quickly snatched up Dubielwicz to use as a replacement. How can this be possible, we wonder? Well if a player not in the NHL has a contract with another league and decides that he wants to return to the NHL, he has to go through re-entry waivers. Even though the Islanders are in dead last, they don’t count in the order since they are the team that wants him.
So what does this have to do with Jaromir Jagr’s return? Well for starters, there are so many teams below the Penguins and Rangers that could use a sniper. Regardless of how old Jagr is, he still is dangerous and always draws the opponents’ top defenders. What’s to stop a dying Atlanta Thrashers team from picking him up? Nothing. They have a dwindling fan base and are losing games by the day and there is no reason to go see them play. Kovalchuk can’t do it on his own and as good as Brian Little is, he isn’t worth the price of admission. Also, can you imagine a line with Kovalchuk and Jagr together? Talk about exciting. Talk about deadly. Talk about totally unlikely for Jagr to end up with the Rangers or Penguins this season.