It’s been over a month since the Canucks once again dipped their toe in the Free Agency wading pool. Overall, it was an ok performance on the part of Jim Benning, who has had more hits than misses of late, and I tend to agree with the B+ grade from Jackson McDonald. However, despite the free agent additions there is still no one on the Canucks’ roster that is a lock to play with the Sedins. With Hansen gone, and Eriksson seemingly a failed experiment, we are still not sure who will play with the twins on this, possibly their final season with the Canucks.
But still, Benning did add some solid NHL pieces to fill in some gaps, and hey, any time you’ve done something Jeff O’Neill disagrees with, you’re probably on the right track.
So with the free agency frenzy out of the way, things quickly got into their normal summer routine. Bob McKenzie turned into Bobby Margarita. Construction started on every street in Vancouver simultaneously. The forests of British Columbia started burning. You know, all the usual stuff.
And with that as background, there I was watching international shipping traffic for a few weeks and I got to thinking about Jaromir Jagr. Now there’s a guy that could handle playing with Swedish twins. I mean, I’m sure it wouldn’t be the first time.
For the first time in his career, Jagr is finding it difficult to land an NHL contract. He reportedly has talked to a couple of NHL teams, but hasn’t received any serious offers.
Despite an injury-decimated lineup, Jagr still managed to put up some half-decent numbers with the Panthers last year, notching 16 goals and 46 points while skating mostly on the first line. And based on his performance, he is clearly still a top line winger:
Even the underlying stats tell the same story. Every single player he played with saw better results when he was on the ice:
With/Without chart by Micah Blake McCurdy, supported via patreon
But while Jagr is still a dominant force in the offensive zone, he doesn’t have the foot speed to keep up and noticeably slowed down his younger linemates. So, you don’t necessarily want to sign Jagr to play on your top lines if he’s not going to be able to keep up. But at the same time, his game is not really well-suited to play down the line-up and you would be wasting that offensive potential.
And that’s what got me thinking about where he might actually be a good fit. You want to play Jagr in an offensive-minded role, where he’s going to complement rather than detract from his linemates. So why not right here in Vancouver?
Jagr’s strong-possession style of play in the offensive zone seems incredibly well-suited to the Sedins’ possession-first, cycle game. And he’s not going to make that line any slower than it already is.
Sure, they’re going to have trouble getting back up ice on the back-check, but if they are heavily used in shifts that start in the offensive zone they have the possession skills to keep the puck down there for extended periods. And if they don’t, so what?
I don’t expect this team to win many more games than they did last year. And frankly, another high-end draft pick would do this franchise a world of good. So does it really matter if they lose games 5-4 instead of 3-1?
Certainly not in terms of the standings.
From an entertainment perspective, last year’s team was nigh on unwatchable. But what if you add a future Hall of Famer on a one year deal to breathe a little offensive life back into the Sedins in a season that projects to be dismal anyway?
Even just the occasional dominant shift or tidbit of Sedinery leading to a jaw-dropping goal would add to the entertainment value. And that’s to say nothing of the milestones he could potentially reach. Jagr trails Gordie Howe by only 56 games played for most all-time, and he is only 86 points shy of 2,000 for his career. He’s also sitting at 765 goals, needing 35 to hit 800 and 36 to tie Gordie Howe for second behind Wayne Gretzky.
Ok, he’s not going to hit 2,000 points or 800 goals this season but he could conceivably get close.
The point is, despite the encouraging signs from the front office and the positive direction this team may finally be going in, this team is still not going to be very good. Playing Jagr with the twins could give long-suffering fans a chance to glimpse some of that Sedin magic one final time.
I mean, it’s the summer and who doesn’t like a summer blockbuster featuring aging stars coming together for one last gig. Think The Expendables, only good:
And hey, if this first season was a hit, who’s to say there couldn’t be a sequel or two?
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