On Sunday, the NHL’s oldest player will turn another year older.
New Jersey Devil’s forward Jaromir Jagr turns 43 and is still producing for his team. In a sport as physical and demanding as hockey it is surprising that he is able not only to play but to do so well. Jagr is playing in his 22nd season in the NHL and has also spent a couple of seasons playing in Russia. On this day where we celebrate the life of one of the best European born players, it’s important to look at his accomplishments.
Jaromir Jagr has spent his career with seven different NHL teams, and he has been one of the best players in the league. Taken in the first round of the 1990 NHL draft (before John Tavares, Nathan MacKinnon and Taylor Hall were even born) Jagr set a number of records with the Pittsburgh Penguins. He spent 11 seasons with the Penguins before going to the Capitals, New York Rangers, Flyers, Stars, Bruins and then the Devils. Except for his half season with the Dallas Stars, it is clear that Jagr prefers the Eastern Conference.
He holds a number of records both over his career and in a season. Jagr is one of the best goal scorers when the game is on the line as he holds the NHL record for most game winning goals with 127, with 20 of those being in overtime.
Jagr will go down as one of the best European players as he holds the record for the most goals and assists. Aside from being one of the best European players, Jagr is seen as one of the best right wings in the game, scoring the most points in the history of the position. This season, Jagr became the oldest person in NHL history to score a hat trick.
Besides being one of the best players in the history of the game, Jagr also has a handful of team records for both the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Rangers. Considering some of the players that have played for the Penguins, it’s pretty amazing that Jagr has 31 team records. Jagr is a five-time Art Ross trophy winner for scoring the most points in the league and won it four times in a row.
This season for the Devils, Jagr is the leading scorer with 29 points. His 18 assists are tied for the team lead with defenseman Marek Zidlicky and his 11 goals are tied for second with Adam Henrique. Jagr isn’t getting as many opportunities on the power play anymore, but he is still getting the opportunity to set up and put the puck in the net. Jagr has been playing throughout the season with both of the team’s goal scorers in Henrique and Michael Cammalleri.
This season hasn’t gone as well as the New Jersey Devils had hoped for. They are currently in sixth place in a very tough Metropolitan Division. It is likely that the Devils will try and trade Jagr at the deadline seeing as the Devils are far from the playoff picture. A number of teams could use a veteran scorer like Jagr and the price to acquire him will be low. His experience will reward a team and he can play on any line, but would probably would be better suited for the lower lines (sorry Boston, you probably won’t have the oldest, Jagr, and the youngest player, David Pastrnak, on the same team because you need a top line right winger.) Jagr has recently been signing one year contracts as he isn’t sure how long he will be able to keep playing.
When Jaromir Jagr does end up retiring he will surely go down as one of the best to play the game. One can’t help but wonder what he would have done if he didn’t spend three years in Russia. While it is unlikely that he would have passed Wayne Gretzky as far as points. He certainly would have passed Ron Francis and Gordie Howe, maybe Mark Messier.
Jagr should be able to pass Francis this year as he only needs 14 more points. Especially if Jagr gets traded to a playoff contender where he can play with some better people. It is unknown how long Jagr can keep this up, but it certainly is interesting to watch him defy age.