12:30pm: Eronko spoke with Jagr about the potential KHL contract, who was very forthcoming in why he would consider the league.
KHL is possible ’cause if I’m not in NHL then I want to go to the Olympics. I want to try to make the team. If I want the Olympics, I have to play in the best possbile league; that’s what the KHL is.
11:20am: Though it’s not clear if there is any interest on his part, Jaromir Jagr is very much on the mind of Rail Yakupov, the head of HC Neftekhimik in the KHL. He was quoted today by the league’s Twitter account, saying that he’s “very interested” in the legendary Czech winger. Igor Eronko of Sport-Express confirms that the team is in talks with Jagr.
It’s clear why they would be interested in Jagr after missing the playoffs last season, but why exactly the 45-year old would want to sign there isn’t apparent. Perhaps they’re offering the most money, or he just wants the challenge of the KHL, but if he wants to play in the Olympics there are easier ways. Jagr owns a Czech team that he could join until the tournament begins, and since the NHL trade deadline is a day after the gold medal match, could sign and play the stretch run with a contender. Signing with Neftekhimik likely takes that option away (though there could be an out clause inserted into the contract), while not giving him a great chance at winning a Gagarin Cup.
It would be surprising if it were the only KHL team after him, but the offseason has been a wild ride of silence already in terms of his playing future. Why he hasn’t been signed to an NHL team remains a mystery to many, as it’s obvious he can still contribute in some ways.