PITTSBURGH, Pa. – The Penguins have offered former NHL MVP Jaromir Jagr a one-year contract, and expect to hear a decision from Jagr’s agent soon.
Jagr, 39, was a Pittsburgh draft pick in 1990, and helped lead the Penguins to two Stanley Cup championships. The franchise’s hope is that he accept the offer, play at least one season in Pittsburgh, and then retire with the team he started with.
The deal is worth a reported US$2 million.
Jagr, who played 17 seasons in the NHL with the Penguins, Capitals and Rangers, has played the past three years in Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League. The six-foot-three, 243-pound forward has 1,599 career points in the NHL, to go along with the 1999 Hart Trophy for the league MVP. He was a Hart finalist five other times, and is an eight-time all-star.
Jagr’s agent is Petr Svoboda, a former defenceman for the Canadiens, Sabres, Flyers and Lightning. Svoboda has been actively shopping Jagr, and the Red Wings and Penguins showed the most interest, among others. However, the Pittsburgh offer is believed to be the only one that has been made.
Though the Penguins and Svoboda expected Jagr’s decision quickly, they were still waiting as of late Wednesday night.
In the interim, the Penguins signed forward Arron Asham to a one-year contract worth $775,000.
On Monday, Penguins coach Dan Bylsma addressed the media on several topics, including Jagr.
“I’ve been on record a few times with the media about the attributes of Jaromir Jagr, (and they) are still really good,” he said. “There are things that I think he could add to our team.”
The Penguins finished with 106 points last season, and lost out on the Atlantic Division title due to a tiebreaker with Philadelphia. Pittsburgh, playing without injured stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, then blew a 3-1 series lead to Tampa Bay, and was eliminated in Round 1.
“If Jaromir Jagr hypothetically were to fit in, I don’t think we’d have to change everything drastically for him to able to fit in,” Bylsma said. “If you watched Jaromir play in the World Championships, his play down low (was) outstanding. We’re a team that wants to play in the offensive zone. There’s a speed part to our game, but it really lies largely in playing in the offensive zone and wearing teams down.
“I don’t think he has missed much of a beat in that regard to his game. Hypothetically speaking, that’s where I see him fitting in.”
Jagr, a Czech native, won an Olympic gold medal in 1998 and a bronze in 2006. He also won two Ice Hockey World Championships in 2005 and 2010. He has already played in 806 games in a Penguins uniform.
He has 646 career NHL goals, and if he returns to the league, his career point total would make him the active leader.
Asham, 33, led the Penguins with three goals in the first-round loss to the Lightning. The five-foot-11, 205-pound forward joined the Penguins last summer after helping the Flyers reach the Stanley Cup Final.
He has played 10 seasons in the NHL, with the Canadiens, Islanders, Devils, Flyers and Penguins.