With the answer to just one little question, San Jose Sharks GM Doug Wilson eliminated the last hope that Sharks fans had of a major free agent addition this off-season. It’s now mid-September, training camps are opening, and San Jose still has yet to make a notable move. They added aging grinder Brandon Bollig, who played exclusively in the AHL last year, Antoine Bibeau, most recently the fifth-string goalie in Toronto, and just a few days ago AHL veteran Brandon Mashinter. Meanwhile, they watched career Shark and franchise leader in just about every category, Patrick Marleau, leave for the Maple Leafs and failed to take advantage of late-summer, affordable replacement options like Drew Stafford (New Jersey) and Thomas Vanek (Vancouver). The Sharks don’t even have an intriguing PTO player in camp.
The last hope of a big-name free agent who could actually help the team in 2017-18 was none other than the legendary Jaromir Jagr. The highest-ranked member of PHR’s Top 50 Free Agents yet to sign at #13 overall, Jagr’s continued availability had been an ongoing story all summer. The 45-year-old future Hall of Famer may seem washed up by age alone, but played in all 82 games with the Florida Panthers last year, registering 46 points. The year before that, Jagr was nearly a 30-goal scorer, racking up 66 points in 79 games for Florida. Somehow, one of the greatest players in NHL history continues to have gas in the tank. In need of replacement scoring and even some veteran guidance for a plethora of young up-and-coming forwards, Jagr seemed like a good fit for San Jose and has continued to be attached to the team in rumors. That ended today. The Athletic’s Kevin Kurz asked Doug Wilson about the possibility of Jagr going to San Jose, to which the GM replied definitively that he did not see the Czech phenom as a fit.
So, the search continues for both sides. Jagr has heard all off-season about teams that “seem like a fit”, but has not had any concrete offers all summer. Last anyone checked in, Jagr was still considering simply playing for HC Kladno of the Czech Liga, a team that he is a part owner of, and then suiting up for the Czech Republic at the 2018 Olympics. After that, perhaps Jagr would draw some interest as a stretch run addition for an NHL team. For now, that seems to be the only option for the aging superstar. As for the Sharks, Wilson nor any of his colleagues have expressed any concern over the team’s lack of off-season additions or potential scoring difficulties. While it is possible that they could still make a trade before the season or early on in the new campaign, the fact that they have no interest in Jagr seemingly means that they are done with free agent additions for the 2017 off-season. The only other notable names left that could be of any interest to San Jose are veterans like Jarome Iginla, Brian Gionta, or Jiri Hudler, all of whom would seem to provide even less upside than Jagr. The Sharks seem content to head into the season with their current group. Maybe a rough start could make them rethink their position on one of the greatest scorers of all time.