In the middle of a lazy afternoon on July 1st, 2011, I was probably more focused on the Phillies' game against the Blue Jays than I was the Flyers' moves on the first day of free agency. After all, they had already made their big moves: trading Mike Richards and Jeff Carter. Then word came through the pipeline that the team had signed Jaromir Jagr. Wait, what? That guy? Yeah, that was the reaction of plenty of Flyers fans. Later in the day, the Flyers had finished up a contract with another former Pittsburgh Penguin, Maxime Talbot. Needless to say, it was a bit of an adjustment for the Flyers to have two of the more popular players in Penguin history on their team.
Now, a year later, we reflect on Jagr's one-year, $3.3 million deal. The right-winger will be 41 mid-way through next season, so it's simply hard to imagine the Flyers giving the same kind of money to a man who will be a year older. If he is to come back, he will likely have to take a pay cut. That also means there are other teams out there who are willing to give him $3.3 million, or maybe even more.
Jagr had 54 points in 73 games last season, and for the most part, was a success story for the Flyers in 2011-2012. He also had 8 points in the post-season. There were questions when the Flyers signed him whether or not he would even be able to play in more than 50 games, but he did. (Insert joke here about people thinking he was going to play even more than 30.) He proved a lot of people wrong. Most of the time he missed last year was related to his groin injury that caused him some trouble, but other than that, Jagr was out there and provided little distraction. He speaks highly of the organization and of his teammate Claude Giroux, whom he played with on the same line for a lot of the season.
For now, the Flyers could easily move on without Jagr. The twelve fowards as of now without Jagr would likely be Giroux, Scott Hartnell, Brayden Schenn, Sean Couturier, Jake Voracek, Danny Briere, Max Talbot, Matt Read, Wayne Simmonds, Eric Wellwood, Zac Rinaldo, and and Tom Sestito. The Flyers have younger players they could turn to, but looking at the twelve forwards, it's highly likely the Flyers will be in pursuit of somebody come free agent frenzy day on Sunday. It could be Jagr, or it could be somebody else. P.A. Parenteau has been linked to the Flyers, and he would be an interesting pick-up. Brandon Prust would be the type of player the Flyers covet for his grittiness and hard work, but the Flyers seem to need one more talented scorer. The rumors of Bobby Ryan will continue to be out there, but there doesn't seem to be anything imminent. And, naturally, just like any team in the league, Zach Parise remains an attractive option.
At best guess, Jagr won't be back. The Flyers were supposed to speak with his agent (former Flyer Petr Svoboda) at the draft, but it's unknown whether or not that happened. Jagr just doesn't seem to be in the plans. It would seem to an outsider that the Flyers have the right amount of veteran leadership in the locker room, with a mix of youth that also fits in well. Jagr would add to that "veteranosity", but with each passing moment, it seems less and less likely that Jagr is putting on the orange and black in 2012-2013. Putting $3.3 million or more into another year of Jagr doesn't seem to make fiscal sense for the Flyers. Then again, it didn't seem to make sense last summer either. Then the deal happened, and Jagr was generally a success for the team. That said, he is a year older, and the groin problems seem likely to scare Flyers GM Paul Holmgren away.
Courses could change, but it looks like the Flyers are trying to get younger (yet have some mix of veteran leadership) up front. They have that in Giroux, Hartnell, Simmonds, Briere, Voracek, and Talbot. The youth of Schenn and Couturier provides the spark the Flyers need. At the end of the day, it's likely that Jagr is looking for work elsewhere in the 2012-2013 season. Jagr had plans to re-sign with the Flyers and it appeared that talks were at least there through the season, but nothing got done. Both sides are also likely waiting to see how the new CBA would affect players of Jagr's age, so there could be a bit of a standoff between the two sides as well. If that's the case, then maybe Jagr will sign in September right before camp begins, if it indeed begins on time.
For now, Jagr will be a free agent, and if another team is desperate to pounce on him on the first day of free agency, it is likely that he will be theirs. For now, the Flyers don't seem to be too interested in bringing back the right winger. That's fine, because the Flyers can go other directions to improve the team.
Sources: Randy Miller/Courier Post Online, Hockey-Reference.com
Victor Filoromo is a featured contributor for Yahoo! and also contributes to PhuturePhillies.com, a Phillies' prospect blog. He grew up just outside of Philadelphia, and enjoys Philadelphia sports, media, and politics.
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