Jaromir Jagr Would Be a Great Fit for the Washington Capitals


The New Jersey Devils’ season is likely over and it appears that veteran RW Jaromir Jagr might finally want out, perhaps hoping for one last shot at a Cup before retirement. Here’s Jagr’s quote from Monday:

"“I have no problem with anything,” Jagr said. “It’s up to (Devils general manager) Lou (Lamoriello). He knows me. I know him. I’ve got no problem with (being traded). If he wants to move me, he will. If he doesn’t, he doesn’t. He knows I like it here, but it’s all about whatever is best for the team.”"

Who can blame Jagr from wanting out from that mess? After all, he just witnessed his own management team hire Adam Oates. If Jagr is made available, the Capitals should definitely be interested. Let’s lay out the pros and cons.

Why it Makes Sense

Jagr has been nothing short of awesome in New Jersey, a true top-six right wing who defies the laws of Father Time at age 42. Check out In Lou We Trust’s glowing review on him from April 2014 when he re-upped for an extra year with New Jersey. After leading the team in points last year, his 21 points this season (6 G, 15 A) are also tied for the team lead on the third-worst offensive team in the league in goals/game this season (IE, expect his numbers to improve somewhere else).

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However, it’s not the basic stats that make Jagr so impressive. Check out his WOWY (with or without you stats) this season, which show a player’s effect on his teammate’s possession numbers. Basically, Jagr’s teammates are all significantly better at puck possession when Jagr is on the ice with them. He’s a huge difference maker in terms of puck possession, using his strength and big frame to keep the puck away from defenders and create problems for opponents.

In case Caps fans haven’t noticed, there’s a slight depth problem amongst the top-six forward lines in D.C. despite the team’s strong overall performance throughout the last month. Players who have seen ice time on the top line at right wing in the last week include Tom Wilson, Jay Beagle and Jason Chimera. The second line of Marcus JohanssonEvgeny KuznetsovTroy Brouwer has also been inconsistent at even strength. Adding Jagr would allow the Caps to stabilize the top two lines with a veteran who is productive and knows what it takes to win a Stanley Cup.

Also, it makes financial sense for the Caps. Jagr is due just $3.5 million against the salary cap this year and is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, so GM Brian MacLellan who is up against the salary cap right now wouldn’t have to move out a core piece to make the deal happen. All it would take, in fact, is Jason Chimera’s contract to make the deal work financially for both sides (more on what the actual roster cost might be below). Here’s what the lines might look like under that scenario.

How’s that for depth? Trotz can spread out the ice time evenly amongst the bottom three lines, creating matchup problems for opponents with each one.

Why It Doesn’t Make Sense

There’s a history between the Caps and Jagr and it isn’t pretty. The Caps added Jagr in 2001 when Ted Leonsis went all Dan Snyder and tried to buy a Stanley Cup. Jagr was supposed to be the mantlepiece of the whole core, and frankly he scored roughly at a point per game pace over three seasons in a Caps uniform. While the team enjoyed moderate success, it ultimately led to playoff disappointments before things collapsed in 2004, resulting in a team-wide fire-sale and the rebuild which would eventually land Alex Ovechkin years later.

Jagr’s heart never seemed to be in it in D.C. He was accused of not giving it his all in the playoffs and, considering what he did to the Caps in a Penguins uniform in the nineties, he didn’t exactly leave town as the most popular player in franchise history. Furthermore, the whole thing seemed to leave Ted Leonsis with a bad taste, as the owner seemed to undergo a philosophical change and essentially went an entire decade without ponying up for high-priced free agents until Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskanen happened.

Can Leonsis and fans forget all that happened?

Also, from a roster standpoint, Barry Trotz would be forced to make some decisions he might not like. Acquiring Jagr might mean Jay Beagle sits on the bench. It might also mean that Tom Wilson plays on the fourth line with one of Kuznetsov or Andre Burakovsky at center, which means Trotz wouldn’t be able to bury them with five minutes of ice time a night. Is Trotz up for it?

What it Would Cost

Jagr is a solid top-six forward, but doesn’t play center and hasn’t put up amazing point totals so far this year, which might depress his value. In my estimation, he can probably be had for a player like Chimera plus a B-level prospect such as Connor Carrick or a third-round draft choice.

The Verdict

Assuming Jagr doesn’t cost significantly more than the above price, MacLellan should have serious interest in Jagr. Caps fans and Leonsis need to get over any ancient memories that happened a decade ago, if that’s what’s stopping the deal from happening. Jagr has matured since then and wants to win a Cup before he retires.

He’d also become, by far, the best RW on the Caps immediately. If Trotz is adaptable and clever like we believe, he’ll find a way to make it work. Tom Wilson can always get minutes on another line. So can Troy Brouwer or any other RW who needs to be bumped out of the top six.

The Caps’ biggest weakness is top-six forward depth and Jagr is both a roster fit and likely to be cost-effective. MacLellan should definitely be working the phones with the Devils to see what it make take to get something done.