Almost since he first departed the NHL, fans of different teams have wondered how much Jaromir Jagr might be able to help their team if he were willing to return to the league. David Staples of Cult of Hockey set off a minor firestorm – including some potshots from a local beat reporter – when he passed on a story from fellow reporter Peter Adler that the Edmonton Oilers had talked with Jagr, a story that was confirmed by Jagr himself later in the season.
Two seasons removed from NHL duty, Jagr is about to represent his country at this month’s Olympics. If he performs well, I would not be at all surprised to see him back in the league for 2010-11. I’m not alone in that assessment – former Jagr coach and current Oilers associate coach Tom Renney said much the same earlier this season:
“[Jagr] and I text back and forth. I talked to him about six weeks ago. He’s on our radar. He has NHL years ahead of him. No question.”
How much NHL hockey Jagr has left in him is anybody’s guess, but aside from watching him at the Olympics we can also use his work in the KHL to guess at his NHL numbers if he were to return to North America. Gabriel Desjardins has formed a list of league translation numbers, based on how players historically have performed after moving from one league to another. Using his numbers, we can guess at what Jagr might have done is he had spent the last two years in the NHL instead of with Omsk.
Here are Jagr’s numbers for the past three years; 2007-08 was his last season in the NHL and his numbers for 2008-09 and 2009-10 are projected over 82 games and adjusted using the Desjardins number linked to above:
The 71 points Jagr put up in 2007-08 represented a post-lockout low for him; he’d had both 123-point and 96-point seasons in the two previous years with the New York Rangers. Looking at these projections, the bad news is that it doesn’t appear Jagr has rebounded; both seasons so far show a slight decrease in offence. However, the good news is that it certainly looks like Jagr can still contribute, albeit at a reduced level – in the 30 goal, 30 assist range.