22 June 2011
It has been well documented as of late that former NHL superstar Jaromir Jagr is considering a return to North America after three seasons playing in the KHL in Russia.
What isn’t as well documented are all of the options with which he is considering signing, key word being all. The NHL itself has a story about Jagr eyeing the Pittsburgh Penguins and Detroit Red Wings, as well as an “unnamed” third team. Other outlets have reported Montreal as that team, and other options may include New York, they could use the offense, as could Washington, both teams he has played for. Pittsburgh makes sense having started his career there, as does Detroit, taking into account their love of players too old to make any kind of a significant impact.
But one team that hasn’t been mentioned yet and should be an obvious target is the Los Angeles Kings. This is a team that has been searching for more offensive power since the trade deadline in 2010. During the offseason they came very close to signing Ilya Kovalchuk but fell short. And at the deadline this past season they gave up, what one could argue, was too much for Dustin Penner. Jagr is one point shy of 1,600 for his NHL career, so he would obviously bring more offense to this team.
As if that wasn’t enough, Ryan Smyth recently informed the Los Angeles front office that he would like to be traded back to Edmonton to play the final year of his contract with the team where he was dubbed “Captain Canada.” Multiple hurdles stand in the way of that trade however; the Kings want to add offense, not trade it away. Edmonton is in the middle of a lengthy rebuild that is a year or two away from finally yielding a playoff spot, so they don’t want to give up any of their young assets. They also really don’t have any veteran players the Kings would feel are of equal value to Smyth and the Oilers wouldn’t likely give up anything more than a 4th round pick for him, less than what the Kings would accept.
But if LA could land Jagr, that would make it easier for them to trade Smyth without giving up offense. Of course, there is no telling how well Jagr will play, how much he’ll score, or if he’ll even be able to last a full 82 game schedule. He’d likely receive consistent games off and play somewhere between 60-75 games, but still, he is a risk because of all the unknown he’ll bring along with his 39 year old price tag. Plus, if he doesn’t pan out, or if LA is in a precarious position come the 2012 trade deadline and a team is looking for some added offense going into the postseason, the Kings could trade him come next March. Jagr will only receive a one year deal, so he would be easy to trade should the need come up.
Detroit is always a viable option for players on the way out looking for one last Cup run, and with his history in Pittsburgh, it seems even more likely that Jagr would sign there. But I think that if Los Angeles isn’t the third, “unnamed” option already, than they should at least become the fourth.
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