When the Florida Panthers landed 43-year-old former superstar Jaromir Jagr, they envisioned him as a shot in the arm for a late-season push. Jagr has been just that, registering seven points in nine games in South Florida as the Panthers sit just outside the Eastern Conference wildcard spot. Even if the Panthers miss the playoffs, would it behoove Jagr to stick around the young, up-and-coming squad in Sunrise?
Despite being in the NHL before a good portion of his teammates were even born, Jagr doesn’t look like he’s ready to hang up the skates and call it a career after over two decades in the league. Jagr appears rejuvenated after being rescued from a bad situation with the New Jersey Devils and fits right in with what the Panthers are doing. A one-year deal worth around $4.5 million would be a smart move for both sides, and I’m fairly certain the interest would be mutual.
As young and full of potential as the Panthers are, a steady veteran presence that has one of the most decorated resumes of all time wouldn’t hurt. Jagr re-signing would also send a message to other players in the league that the Panthers are looking to contend and could make Florida a slightly more viable option for free agents.
The great explorer, Juan Ponce De Leon, went to Florida looking for the fountain of youth in the 1500s and, 500 years later, it looks like Jagr is on the same mission. Jagr is playing as well as anyone over the age of 40 can and the Panthers are benefiting from that and should pursue keeping him around. Jagr won’t be the Jagr of the 1990s and 2000s that won league MVPs and dominated the league like few in history, but he still serves a purpose as a wily old veteran on a young team. Jagr serving that purpose over the course of a full season could be the difference between the team making the playoffs in 2016 and watching from home, like they have for all but one spring, since 2000.