We are two months out from the start of the 2017-18 hockey season, and 45-year-old Jaromir Jagr is still a free agent. The NHL’s second-highest scorer in league history has remained without a team since the start of free agency on July 1, and if what Jagr says is true, he could be without one for a while longer.
On Wednesday, Jagr sat down with NHL.com to discuss his situation and his plans for the future if no teams come calling. Among them is a potential return to the Czech Republic and to Kladno, a hockey club Jagr owns, if he has not found a job come opening day.
"The most serious negotiations I have are with Kladno. Because Kladno has a smart owner who knows what he wants," joked Jagr, who owns the team in Czech Republic's second-tier professional league. "No, really, I don't have a clue. I leave it all on my agent [Petr Svoboda]. There is a couple of [NHL] teams that showed interest, but nothing specific yet."
The benefits of Jagr playing for a team he owns in the second-tier Czech league is his ability to drop in and out of the team if an NHL suitor comes along. If Jagr went to the KHL or to Extraliga, the Czech Republic’s top hockey league, he’d be at the mercy of those teams:
"That would be the advantage of playing for Kladno. One thing is I would be at home and the other is I would have a chance to leave for the NHL anytime there is an opportunity," he said. "Let's say some team deals with injuries and needs help, then I could pack my stuff in the next day and go. If I played in Extraliga, I wouldn't have such an option unless the Czech league season would be over."
While Jagr has said there have been a few teams on his radar, he is waiting for “serious interest” from a team. “Because the more serious it is, the bigger the chance to get a better role on the team,” Jagr said to NHL.com.
Overall, Jagr “didn't expect it would be so hard to get a job in the NHL this year.”
It’s hard to pin down exactly why no team has taken a flyer on Jagr yet this offseason. The veteran forward put up 16 goals and 30 assists for the Florida Panthers last year and played all 82 games to boot. Though his offensive effectiveness has declined with age, Jagr is a top-nine forward on every team in this league.
We will have to wait and see if an NHL team comes knocking with serious intent for Jagr, but the longer he is out of a job in this league, the poorer we hockey fans are.