NHL legend Jaromir Jagr will surely keep pushing for an NHL roster spot, even if it takes him through the 2018 Winter Olympics and his 45th birthday to finally land a gig with a contender down the stretch. In the mean time though, Jagr finally has a place to call home for 2017-18 season. Unsurprisingly, it’s Czech club HC Kladno, of whom Jagr is a part owner. Czech hockey news source “Hokej.cz” was the first to report (link in Czech) Jagr’s plans, and even goes so far as to say that Jagr should be ready for game action by Saturday. Now, Kladno was always the fallback plan for Jagr, so this announcement doesn’t eliminate the possibility that Jagr could still sign in the NHL or KHL, as has been most recently rumored, at any time. What it does mean, is that the ageless wonder is going to keep playing, one way or another.
- Latvian KHL club Dinamo Riga took a hit earlier today when former NHL forward T.J. Galiardi terminated his contract with the team following a hot start to his season. However, Riga was ready to react accordingly, as they soon after announced the addition of 2003 4th overall pick Nikolai Zherdev. Zherdev, a name that many in North America equate with missed opportunity, was a top pick of the young Columbus Blue Jackets organization more than a decade ago. While a one-dimensional scoring forward, Zherdev’s talent was undeniable. In four seasons with the Jackets, Zherdev recorded 76 goals and 105 assists in 283 games; he was also a -52. Columbus traded Zherdev to the Rangers in 2008-09, where he again was a highly successful scorer, but Zherdev left the team after the season, returning home to Russia. After a season in the KHL, Zherdev attempted an NHL comeback with the Flyers, but didn’t have the same gusto to his game and headed back across the Atlantic in the off-season. Since the young age of 26, Zherdev has been playing in the KHL and has struggled with health and inconsistency for much of that time. Zherdev was already released after just two games with Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk earlier this season, but hopes he can find a more permanent home with a Riga club in need of as much help as it can get.
- While Riga is deep up front, even after the loss of Galiardi, they don’t enjoy the same talent on the back end. They helped themselves with that problem today as well, inking veteran defenseman Anssi Salmela to a one-year deal. The 33-year-old Finn played in 112 NHL games between 2008 and 2011, bouncing between the New Jersey Devils and Atlanta Thrashers, but managing to play a respectable and reliable stay-at-home role in both locations. Salmela has done more bouncing around since heading back to Europe; he’s jumped from team-to-team and league-to-league in the KHL and Swedish Hockey League, including a strong showing with Linkoping just last season. Salmela will add some experience and leadership for the Dinamo as they look to be build upon their last-place roster.
- Another NHL veteran finding employment overseas in goaltender Justin Pogge. After losing starter Ville Kolppanen, Swedish club Rogle BK reached out to the reliable journeyman. The team announced (link in Swedish) the new deal today, comparing Pogge to former keeper Anders Lindback. Pogge sat on an NHL bench as recently as 2012, but has actually not seen any big league action since the end of his rookie year in 2008-09. Pogge has played in Italy, Sweden, and most recently Slovakia, with the KHL’s HC Slovan Bratislava last year, and has actually fared well for himself since leaving North America behind. He has a chance to continue an altogether impressive European career as he begins his time with Rogle this season.