The Philadelphia Flyers have emerged as sleepers in the races for prized free agents Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. However, Flyers fans like myself noticed that the team still had players of its own it needed to resign - like Jaromir Jagr, for instance. But Jagr's one-year stint in Philadelphia came to an end on July 3, as he got lured away by the Dallas Stars, of all teams.
It will be very weird to picture Jagr in a Stars uniform - but it was unbelievably weird to picture him with the Flyers a year ago too. However, after Philadelphia lured him away from the Pittsburgh Penguins, he turned out to be a valued - if not injury prone - contributor. This makes it all the more upsetting that he wasn't able to finish his career with his second Pennsylvania team.
Jagr's days of lighting up the NHL like he did 10-15 years ago are long past over. Yet the explosiveness that he still has, along with the help he gave young stars like Claude Giroux, made him a very valuable Flyer last season. The hope was that this would make Philadelphia resign him for one more year, but it was too busy driving up the prices for Parise and Suter instead.
While the Flyers may or may not be serious about landing a big new star, they have to be careful they don't lose players in the meantime. Matt Carle is still an unrestricted free agent, with Philadelphia perhaps needing the defenseman more than it needed Jagr. Still, everyone is frozen in place in free agency until Parise and Suter make their choices, so the Flyers should have time to work things out with Carle - if that is their focus.
They have already lost a big leader in Jagr, although his injuries and age may have made him too much of a gamble for another year. Getting him in the first place was as much about gamesmanship than anything else, since it stopped the Penguins from landing him back. But the Flyers did come out ahead in that particular game - although they run a greater risk in their gamesmanship with Parise and Suter.
If there's no room for Jagr now, how much room will the Flyers have to make to sign Parise or Suter? And if they get neither, which is the more likely scenario, can they then regroup to keep Carle and make sure they don't lose anyone else? Either way, the dominos are starting to fall in free agency - and if it can already result in Jagr joining the Stars, things may get wilder and weirder from here.
Robert Dougherty is a life-long Philadelphia resident and a Flyers fan since the age of eight.
Other stories from this contributor
- Ice Hockey
- Sports & Recreation
- Jaromir Jagr
- Zach Parise
- Ryan Suter