After playing with the Philadelphia Flyers last year, Jaromir Jagr is looking to play at least one more in the NHL. However, after a report from Darren Dreger at TSN, the future Hall of Famer hasn’t decided which uniform he will be wearing to begin his 19th season in the NHL.
When Jagr becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1st, the New York Rangers should offer their former captain a chance to have a second stint on Broadway.
Before discussing the reasons why the Rangers should offer Jagr a contract, there are many people who would be skeptical about this.
Jagr will turn 41 years old next February. The thought is that bringing Jagr back would be reverting to the way the Rangers went about putting their teams together before the lockout: signing aging superstars.
Also, the Rangers have established an identity under John Tortorella, and it isn’t a stretch to say that the future Hall of Famer’s style of play doesn’t fit into the team’s identity. However, that is the reason why signing Jagr would be a great move for the Rangers.
Jagr is by no means the same player that he was in his prime, but he wouldn’t have the same role the second time around in New York. Instead of being asked to carry a team almost singlehandedly, the former Rangers’ captain would be asked to play a supporting role. In looking at the Rangers’ roster in its current state, they already have two very good right wings in among their top six forwards: Marian Gaborik and captain Ryan Callahan.
Although Jagr would play a supporting role for the defending Atlantic Division Champions, that doesn’t mean that his impact offensively would be diminished in any way. Although Jagr turned 40 halfway through last season, he still recorded 54 points (which would have tied for 3rd on the Rangers).
In addition, one place where Jagr would be a tremendous asset (and upgrade) for the Rangers is the power play. 8 of Jagr’s 19 goals in 2011-12 came with the man advantage, and even though Jagr has aged, he still has one of the best wrist shots in the game and is a power play threat. For a Rangers team that struggled on the power play all season long, the addition of Jagr would do nothing but help the Blueshirts.
After reaching the Eastern Conference Finals last year, the Rangers know what changes they need to make in order to improve. In an interview after the season, Rangers’ legend Mark Messier, who serves as a special assistant to Rangers’ GM Glen Sather, said that the Rangers need more depth going forward.
During the playoffs — with Gaborik battling through a shoulder injury — the Rangers’ offense had stretches where they couldn’t sustain offensive pressure. Brad Richards was very effective in the first two rounds, but had trouble in the Eastern Conference Finals against the New Jersey Devils. In fact, Chris Kreider, who hadn’t played in an NHL game prior to the 2012 NHL playoffs, scored more goals in the playoffs than seven Rangers’ regulars did combined.
In order for the Rangers to take the next step, they need to have more offensive help. Many people believe that trading for Blue Jackets’ captain Rick Nash is how the Rangers will go about solving that problem. Others think that a young player like Evander Kane might now be on the Rangers’ radar, or veterans such as Shane Doan and could provide secondary scoring.
The answer for the Broadway Blueshirts is their former captain. The man who started the Rangers’ post-lockout turnaround.
Michael Rappaport is a junior at New York University majoring in Sports Management. He is one of the Featured Writers for the New York Rangers for The Hockey Writers, and joined THW in January of 2012. In addition to his work for THW, Michael has been featured in numerous publications such as New York Hockey Journal, Yahoo’s Puck Daddy Blog, The Huffington Post, Spector’s Hockey, and Kukla’s Korner to name a few. You can talk hockey with Michael by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, or if you want to shoot a quick message, following @Mike_Rappaport on twitter.