Despite being the first name that follows Wayne Gretzky’s on the NHL’s all-time scorer’s list, veteran winger Jaromir Jagr still remains without a contract as the end of the off-season nears.
But it appears the 45-year-old does have one alternative option on the table.
Jagr is reportedly considering returning to play in Europe due to the lack of interest from NHL clubs to this point, with Czech Republic team HC Kladno – for which he serves as owner – standing as his preferred option until a North American team comes calling.
“The most serious negotiations I have are with Kladno,” Jagr told NHL.com’s Michael Langr on Wednesday. “Because Kladno has a smart owner who knows what he wants.”
The future Hall of Famer said he would prefer to play for Kladno in the Czech Republic’s second-tier league rather than the top-level Extraliga, as it would leave open the option of returning to the NHL if an opportunity presents itself.
“That would be the advantage of playing for Kladno,” Jagr said. “One thing is I would be at home and the other is I would have a chance to leave for the NHL any time there is an opportunity. 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.”
Jagr last suited up for the Florida Panthers, posting 16 goals and 46 points in 2016-17. However, with a 27-goal, 66-point effort just one year prior, there’s no question the two-time Stanley Cup champion still has plenty to offer a prospective NHL club.
“I know very well I’m not the same player like 10 or 15 years ago when I was able to win games by myself,” Jagr said. “It’s up to the coach what position he wants to use me. Maybe it would be even better for me if I played on a second or third line because I would play against worse players and worse defensemen. I didn’t have as much luck in my entire career, I always had to face the top defensemen.”
While the veteran said a couple teams have showed interest, it seems nothing viable has emerged just yet, prompting the potential move back home.
“Most important for me is to see some serious interest from the team,” Jagr said. “Because the more serious it is, the bigger the chance to get a better role on the team. And then it’s on me how I would use that chance.
“Right now, I need to be ready when the opportunity comes.”