Guess what happened for the second straight game on Thursday? Jaromir Jagr recorded an assist on the Johnny Gaudreau/Sean Monahan line. Two assists in four games played is a small sample size, but the 45-year-old from the Czech Republic can still produce at the top league.
Jagr signed a one-year, $1 million deal with the Flames just before their season began, marking the first time in 24 seasons that Jagr, who will be 46 before season’s end, has played for a Canadian team. Considering how long it took for the veteran to sign with a team, it appears like Jagr’s career may be coming to a close. This could very well be his final season.
Nevertheless, he has now immersed himself with a team with playoff aspirations. Following Calgary’s 2-1 loss to Carolina, the Flames remain in third place in the Pacific Division behind Los Angeles and Vegas, two teams they expect to pass at some point. With the Oilers likely recovering from their four-game losing streak, Jagr has picked a good time to start contributing to an offense that has a mixture of recently realized and unrealized talent.
While his 46 points from last season was a drop-off from the season before, the expectations for a player in his mid-40’s is not overwhelming on a team that has other scoring threats, and Jagr is undoubtedly the third option with Gaudreau and Monahan. Matching that total would be a success for a Flames team that is looking for consistent contributors, but Jagr may be more important outside of the scoring category.
Jagr has historically been known for being one of the better puck possessors in the NHL, and the Flames have had trouble keeping teams out of their zone. Their total Fenwick (Unblocked shots difference) is currently at -24, which is good for sixth-worst in the NHL. That has resulted in 36.3 shots per game, which is second worst behind Minnesota. While Mike Smith has done an excellent job at limiting the opponents’ damage, especially against Carolina, the lack of puck possession has limited Calgary’s chances at taking calculated shots on goal.
Jagr’s season started late because he wanted to be better conditioned. While he will certainly be slower than others on the ice, he should still make an impact. For a team that does not have a 100-point threat at the moment, Jagr will need to mentor his line mates and contribute at a consistent rate to help Calgary return to the playoffs and end his career on a high note. Considering how the future Hall of Famer has continued to produce at decent levels, it would not be surprising for Jagr to not only fit in perfectly with the Gaudreau/Monahan line, but to also play 52 more games to pass Gordie Howe for the all-time games played list.