The latest on the Jaromir Jagr front, via Dellapina, is that “No. 68 still hasn’t received a contract offer from the Rangers”:http://www.nydailynews.com/blogs/rangers/2008/06/jagr-no-contact-from-sather.html, lending further credence to the idea that Glen Sather may be looking to turn a new page next season.
Readers of the blog know my feelings on Jagr. I like him; I think he’s got some great hockey left in him; and I think the Rangers, given their current construction, are better served trying to re-sign him for at least another year, and maybe even two.
Having said all that, I’d understand the team’s decision to let Jagr walk if they had a certifiable Plan B, but at least from outward appearances, there doesn’t seem to be one. A report out of Columbus says the Blue Jackets are preparing to “trade for the negotiating rights for Pittsburgh’s Ryan Malone”:http://www.columbusdispatch.com/live/content/sports/stories/2008/06/17/jackets17.ART_ART_06-17-08_C1_U8AGU5M.html?sid=101. If this happened, it would not only preclude the Rangers from signing Malone, but it would confirm that the “Penguins are indeed serious about re-signing Marian Hossa”:http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/search/s_572725.html. And in my eyes, Hossa right now is the only viable replacement for a player of Jagr’s caliber.
Another possibility is that the Rangers aren’t looking to make any big free agent splash at forward, either in re-signing their own veterans or in going after others, and are looking merely to promote from within. It’s an admirable philosophy in some regards, and who knows, maybe the team would benefit from this approach long-term. But it doesn’t make sense to have such a formidable collection of high-end centers and have no established wings to play with them (as for re-signing Sean Avery, the agitator is an excellent complementary player, but if he’s one of your top two wings next season, it’s going to be a long one).
Finally, there is the possibility that the Rangers really do want to sign Jagr and are just making him sweat a bit. As Dellapina rightly points out, this isn’t such a stretch for Sather. But when it comes to a player asÂ sensitive as Jagr, it’s a plan that will likely only backfire.