The Swedish Scoring Touch

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.

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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:

HERO chart by Domenic Galamini

Even the underlying stats tell the same story. Every single player he played with saw better results when he was on the ice:

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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?

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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:

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And hey, if this first season was a hit, who’s to say there couldn’t be a sequel or two?



  • Killer Marmot

    Don’t like it.

    First, very much the same theory was advanced when Eriksson was signed last summer. Do we keep collecting geriatrics until it works?

    Second, it would be one more obstacle to bringing up younger forward prospects, which the Canucks need to get on with.

    • Dirk22

      Getting Eriksson wasn’t the mistake. Getting Eriksson for 6 years x 6mill was the mistake. Don’t think the authors implying signing him for anything more than a year.

      • Bud Poile

        When healthy,LE has consistently tallied 50+-70+ pps.
        Last year was an aberration statistically speaking.
        Let’s see how much the offense Gagner and Boeser will provide helps out all the others.

  • It’d be great, but I assume Jagr wants to play for a contender.

    Perhaps the Canucks could convince him to come with a promise to flip him at the deadline if they’re out of a playoff spot.

    As an aside, I know this has been beaten to death, but it’s amazing to think that if it weren’t for the 94 and 04 lockouts, Jagr would unquestionably be second all time in points and first all time in goals and games played.

      • Yeah I didn’t mention those ’cause they were his choice. He had no choice about the lockouts. But if you think of what Jagr was producing around those years, it’s reasonable to think he could have put up between 400 and 500 points and 200 goals over that time.

      • sloth

        I can’t find it anywhere but I’m positive I’ve read somewhere Jagr believes he would not have been able to play this long after returning to the NHL if he hadn’t taken those 3 years in Europe. Seems like he was burning out in his last couple seasons with NYR and needed that change of pace and scenery. He was forced to change his fitness regimes and playing style for the KHL, which has a shorter season and faster less physical game, so he was physically and mentally rested and more adaptable in playing his game when he made his return.

    • LouSlips

      Given the KHL years for sure he would be, but “first all time in goals” just from the two lockouts? Even if the shortened season means he doubles his total (32), and lockout season means he gets as many as the next season (54), that only gives him 851, which is still a little short. Not quite “unquestionably”

  • Rodeobill

    It would be a fun experiment. If it didn’t work out as good as an ol’ fogey line did in San Jose, we just drop ’em down to third line minutes with offensive zone face offs, or split em up. As said, it would be worth it just to fill in some seats and add some fun to the season.

  • Ragnarok Ouroboros

    I would totally sign Jagr. We all know Canucks will likely tank this season, so how do you get fans to buy tickets. I’m betting fans and the travelling Jagrs would buy tickets if Jagr is on the team. He can easily play with the Sedins as the second or third line. His stats are still really good. If a young player had his stats he would be signed for 4 million a year easily. From a PR point of view the Canucks can not lose, and it would make the season tolerable while the Canucks stock pile draft picks for the next generation.