Op-Ed: Should the Toronto Maple Leafs Target Free Agent Jaromir Jagr?

Posted Jul 4, 2008 by Nawest Vazquez
Now that most of the dust has settled, it's time to focus on who's next for the Toronto Maple Leafs. With over $8.5 million left in salary cap space, the roster is yet to be finalized.
Czech NHL player Jaromír Jágr
Czech NHL player Jaromír Jágr
Photo by apachicz
The big fish, and my dearest, Mats Sundin, is still on the market. We learned a lot about good old Mats in the last three days. We learned that it isn't, and never was, about the money.
It looks like Sundin didn't even flinch over Vancouver's two-year, $20 million offer, which would have made him the highest paid player in the league. That says a lot. That says, at least to me, that he's coming back to Toronto.
Now that Marian Hossa is a Red Wing, Detroit's out of the picture. Markus Naslund is the newest New York Ranger, so the Rangers aren't in contention for Sundin either. If we're to believe that only four teams made actual contract offers for Mats' services, that leaves Vancouver and Toronto.
Here's how to persuade Mats to make the right decision and come back home: sign Jaromir Jagr.
I mean it. Now that Naslund is heading to New York, Jagr's checking out. Just imagine #68 in the blue and white. How sweet would that be? I know, he's on the downside and had one of the worst statistical seasons of his career last year. But that only proves that he's a perfect fit for the Toronto Maple Leafs (see: Lindros, Eric).
Jagr can be brought in to provide veteran leadership. Check that, he's not much of a leader. Sulks a bit too much. He can be brought in to play sound defensive hockey. OK, he's not much of a back checker. I'll be honest, I just want the 35-year-old Jagr in Toronto to play on a line with Mats Sundin, score a boat load of goals, and make what should be one brutal season a little more interesting and exciting.
In my fantasy, we bring both of them into the mix on one-year deals at $6 million each.
Of course, my Jagr fantasy cannot become reality unless the Maple Leafs trade Bryan McCabe and his $5.75 million per year salary. Umm, good luck with that, Fletch.
Fletch also still needs to sign restricted free agents Matt Stajan and the newly acquired Mikhail Grabovski, making it even more unlikely that Jagr will be joining the Maple Leafs.
Jeez, I really should have thought this through a bit more, eh? What can I say, I'm excitable.
So, uh, how about that Brendan Morrison guy? I think he'd look good as the second-line centre behind Mats...