Tomas Plekanec and Jaromir Jagr are both from the Czech Republic, are clearly good buddies, and would definitely be open to playing together. But lots of guys are buddies, and as great of a story as having two veteran countrymen finally playing together in the NHL would be, it's going to take more than that to convince me he's a fit. So in the interest of finding out more about how Jagr has done out west in Dallas this year, I reached out to Brad Gardner - the Managing Editor of Defending Big D, the Stars' SB Nation site (featured this week, by the way) - for some info. Here it is.
Me: There is a feeling that if he were traded to Montreal, Jagr should play in a tough minutes role with countryman Tomas Plekanec. What kind of role has Jagr played so far this year, and could he handle that?
Brad: It's no secret that Jagr isn't quick. He's less than quick. He's downright slow - which makes the things he does all the more amazing in spite of it. It also makes him a little bit of a liability on defense, so it would depend on the back-checking prowess of those with whom he plays. The Stars have used him with Jamie Benn against some good lines at times, and with him you just take the good with the bad. The power play production helps.
Me: It has seemed at times this year in Philly that Claude Giroux has missed having Jagr on his wing. Has Jagr greatly missed playing with an incredible young talent like Claude Giroux?
Brad: 25 points in 31 games (Note: 26 in 32 after last night) at 41 years of age and playing with Jamie Benn - You tell me. I'd say no.
Me: It seems that there have been talks of an extension with the Stars. How likely do you think it is that Jagr re-signs rather than is traded?
Brad: He's a tough nut to crack. He seems to value playing time and role more these days than, perhaps, even a chance to "win", and many feel he likes being an important player on a very young team in transition. There's a sense about him, though, that he might prefer to make a decision in the summer. My guess is that he is not extended before the deadline, but neither is he traded. I could be horribly wrong, but I think Joe Nieuwendyk will give him a chance to choose to stay in Dallas at a later date and take the value of having him on the ice and the locker room in the mean time despite the risk of losing him for nothing.
Me: If he were to be traded, what would it take for a team like the Canadiens to acquire him?
Brad: He's just a rental, but one that's scored more this season than anyone we've seen moved so far. So using those as a bar I would, as a Stars fan, hope that it would take a pretty highly thought-of prospect and a pick that might get conditionally better contingent on a team's ability to re-sign him or else go far in the playoffs. It's hard to judge the market until we get closer to the deadline.
Thanks to Brad for doing that.
Jagr is currently on a one-year deal, making $4.5 million per year without a no-trade clause. He has 26 points in 32 games, playing most recently on a line with Jamie Benn and Eric Nystrom, and playing on the first powerplay unit.
As Brad pointed out, that means he has faced decent competition at times, but for the most part he has been sheltered, with easy minutes and primarily offensive zone starts. Considering that Tomas Plekanec plays the toughest minutes on the Canadiens, it's doubtful that his countryman would be too useful on a line with him, so you can forget that right now. But that doesn't mean that he doesn't have anything left. Clearly, Jagr can still be a contributor, considering his high possession numbers and total points. If Bourque remains out through the playoffs, he might slot in nicely on the right of Galchenyuk/Eller or Pacioretty/DD, whatever the case may be (mix and match however you want).
The big question, obviously, is whether he is traded at all, and what it would take to get him. Jagr might be a popular acquisition in theory, but start throwing out names like Tinordi and Beaulieu and it gets somewhat shadier. So what would you be willing to give up to get him?