Among New Jersey’s prospective trade candidates as the deadline swiftly approaches, Jaromir Jagr stands out as their most worthwhile asset. He tops a list of movable players with expiring contracts that includes forwards Michael Ryder, Martin Havlat, Scott Gomez, Steve Bernier, and defenseman Marek Zidlicky (I suppose you could include Bryce Salvador in this group as an honorable mention).
Even with his 43rd birthday approaching, Jagr can still log big minutes and find ways to produce at a top-six forward pace. There will definitely be interest from teams around the league in obtaining his services for their upcoming playoff run.
As I’ve said going into the season, this team would be a powerhouse if they iced the players mentioned above, six or seven years ago. It’s a sugarcoated way of saying the Devils ultimately have a cast of has-beens at their disposal, most of which won’t yield much in return. Teams will most likely resort to the players New Jersey has to offer as their fallback plan, should deals for their initial trade targets fail to materialize.
Best case scenario, Lamoriello either makes out of a Jagr trade with an NHL-ready forward prospect, or an early round draft pick. While the interest will be there around deadline time, teams won’t necessarily fall over each other to obtain the longtime veteran. Up until his hiatus to play overseas, Jagr accumulated totals of 181 points in 169 playoff games (1.07 points per game). Since his return to the NHL, he’s appeared in 33 playoff games played over six rounds with two different teams. He’s registered just 18 points and one goal, which he scored back in 2012.
A common conception among potential buyers is that Jagr has exhibited some wear and tear come playoff time, since his return to the NHL. While this may be associated with age catching up to him, .54 points per game in the playoffs isn’t too shabby for a player in their 40s. It’ll be two years since Jagr partook in the playoffs, something that could work for or against how he appeals to potential suitors. On one side, he could last longer on a team that goes on a deep run, having gotten a few extra months rest after missing the playoffs last year. On the contrary, Jagr is presently on pace to finish the season with 16 goals and 45 points. Those would be his lowest totals in a full season since returning to the NHL, a 33% drop from last season’s numbers. This fluctuation in numbers, along with being two years older since his last playoff appearance, will undoubtedly make teams put the ramifications of a Jagr trade into perspective.
At this point in his career, Jagr just wants to play, and despite lacking any type of clause in his contract, I’m sure Lou will run a trade by him first before pulling the trigger. Having spent the majority of his career in the east, I’m sure that’s where Jagr could find his next team.
Lou has a pattern of factoring previous teams and hometowns of players he’s traded. Despite being in the same division, a deal with Pittsburgh or Washington shouldn’t be out of the question. Boston could be a possible trade partner since they’ve struggled to replicate last year’s offensive output. Their tight salary cap situation will limit their options but Jagr’s friendly cap hit at that stage in the season could fit within their budget.
Having played for Laviolette in Philadelphia, Jagr could be a nice fit in Nashville, who could use an experienced player of his caliber in their playoff push. Los Angeles and Vancouver are two other teams in playoff positions that could benefit from acquiring another top-six forward. Jagr will go where he’s needed and depending on how Lou plays this scenario out, his patience will be key in orchestrating a deal that benefits both Jagr and the Devils.