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NHL free agency: The pros and cons of signing Jaromir Jagr

With 1,914 career points including 765 goals and an impressive 1,149 assists, it’s safe to say that Jaromir Jagr is among the greatest hockey players to ever lace up his skates in the National Hockey League.

Jagr’s incredible career has included over 25 NHL seasons and two Stanley Cups. Jagr has also led the NHL in scoring five times and has been a first team All-Star seven times. No. 68 stands second overall behind Wayne Gretzky in all-time NHL scoring and won an Olympic gold medal with the Czech Republic in 1998.

At 45 years of age, Jagr finished the 2016-17 season with 46 points and played in all 82 games for the Florida Panthers. Despite this nearly unmatchable resume, he remains unsigned in the middle of September. Let’s explore the pros and cons of what a Jagr signing might hold for an NHL team during the upcoming 2017-18 season.

Pro — Experience

This is a rather obvious strength that could benefit an NHL team by having Jagr in the locker room. With 1,711 NHL games and an additional stint overseas in the KHL, which is widely regarded as the worlds second-best league, it’s hard to argue that there are few scenarios in hockey that would faze Jagr. He also has 208 career playoff games and has amassed 201 points in the playoffs. When Jagr is on the ice in any situation, it’s difficult to imagine him feeling uncomfortable.

Con — Age

Jagr had 66 points in 2015-16 and 46 points in 2016-17. Very impressive numbers for a player who is in his mid 40s. However he will turn 46 in February and logic combined with science tells us that at some point the production will severely decline. The modern NHL is a young man’s game with speed and skill at an all-time high. With Jagr having 20 points less last season than the previous year, one has to ask themselves about where his production could trend in the upcoming season.

Pro — Power Play Contributions

On a second power play unit, Jagr can remain a solid presence. He has 609 career points on the power play and was able to score eight of his 16 goals last season with the man advantage. On a second unit the veteran has the potential to add some important points in a league where scoring is often hard to come by. Hockey fans are no strangers to watching Jagr make excellent passes and use his exceptional hockey sense in these situations.

Con — Lack of Recent Playoff Success

In his last three trips to the playoffs, Jagr has only found the back of the net for one goal in 39 games. This suggests based again on science and logic, that following the rigors of an intense and physical NHL season the legendary veteran begins to show signs of his age. For a contending team, every minute of playoff hockey is precious. There isn’t room for a top six forward who is unable to produce with the stakes so high.

Pro — Fan Favorite

Jaromir Jagr is a very popular player who is well-liked by hockey fans of all ages. For the older fans he is a familiar face who is inspiring due to his youthful exuberance and continuing fitness at 45 years young. Younger fans will feel lucky to catch a glimpse of the legend that dad and mom have told hockey stories about. In short, Jagr can help sell tickets and put butts in seats. He can also help a team boost merchandise sales. If he signed with my personal favorite team, I would consider purchasing a jersey with his iconic No. 68. There is no doubt that the NHL’s second leading scorer of all time can help boost a franchise on and off the ice.

Con — Taking a Younger Players Spot

As previously mentioned, today’s game is composed of many young, skilled, developing hockey players. With Jagr in the lineup, somebody will end up in the press box or the AHL. Teams will need to consider the effects of having one less roster spot before making the decision to sign Jagr. Alternatively if he ends up having his minutes cut by a team’s coach or he is a healthy scratch, there is the potential for it to become a negative distraction on a team. In the parity-filled NHL of today, a disruption in the locker room can lead to a cold streak which might cost you a playoff position. General managers will have to put this into consideration before signing the man who will be 46 at season’s end.