Vancouver Canucks: Jim Benning should sign Jaromir Jagr

SUNRISE, FL - APRIL 8: Jaromir Jagr
SUNRISE, FL - APRIL 8: Jaromir Jagr /

The Vancouver Canucks are doing the right thing by finally undergoing a massive youth movement. But 45-year-old free agent Jaromir Jagr would be a nice fit for the Canucks, if Jim Benning is willing to sign the future Hall of Famer.

Following yet another disappointing season in 2016-17, Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning finally realized that it’s time to forget about the playoffs. Draft, develop the kids and stop adding veterans.

Instead of chasing a big fish in free agency — like he did with Loui Eriksson last year — Benning opted to find cheap players at bargain prices. When all was said and done, his big additions were versatile forward Sam Gagner, defenceman Michael Del Zotto and backup goalie Anders Nilsson.

Throw in those guys with a young core that’ll include Bo Horvat, Brock Boeser, Troy Stecher, Ben Hutton and others, and the Canucks are definitely going to roll with a younger roster next season. Understandably so.

But the Canucks will also open the season with 37-year-old twins in Daniel and Henrik Sedin. The two are entering their contract years, and it remains to be seen if they’ll finish out the season in Vancouver, or if they’ll get traded at the 2018 deadline.

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If the Canucks decide to keep the Sedins in Vancouver beyond next season, then they should think about giving the twins a nice gift. That would be a 45-year-old linemate in the ageless Jaromir Jagr.

Before you skip to the comment section, hear me out.

Yes, I’ve said a million times that the Canucks have to continue their focus of rebuilding around young players, and that Benning shouldn’t worry about veteran players at this time.

Jagr — who seconds second all-time in scoring with 1,914 points — has gone unsigned despite posting a respectable 16 goals and 46 points for the Florida Panthers last season.

Even Jagr himself is baffled by the lack of interest in this year’s market:

Signing Jagr wouldn’t be for the purpose of making the Canucks a playoff hopeful team in 2018. It would be to actually HELP out with this rebuild. Allow me to explain.

Leader and mentor

There is perhaps no veteran in today’s NHL who can lead by example like Jaromir Jagr. He’s spent nearly three decades playing pro hockey — at an incredibly high level. He’s seen it all before, and Jagr would be a tremendous leader in Vancouver’s locker room.

He spent time with the rebuilding Dallas Stars in 2012-13, and was a terrific leader for the Florida Panthers in 2015-16 and 2016-17. In the former year, Florida took home the Atlantic Division title. Jagr helped youngsters like Aaron Ekblad, Vincent Trochek and Jonathan Huberdeau take their games to another level.

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The Canucks have plenty of young players on the roster, and learning from a legend in Jagr could go a long way. He’s one of the classiest, most professional and beloved players ever. Imagine that mullet giving all the young players some motivation and inspiration.

All young teams need a leader. The Edmonton Oilers brought in Milan Lucic for that. The Arizona Coyotes kept Shane Doan around to lead by example for the youth. Vancouver should think about adding Jagr, so he can add extensive leadership for the young players.

The third Sedin

As mentioned at the top of the article, the Canucks should think about arming the Sedin twins with Jagr. Though it would be one of the biggest not-so-fast lines in the NHL, it would be a show to watch. The advanced stats show it.

Last season, Jagr posted a ridiculous Corsi For percentage of 62.2. Just think about that for a moment. On the flip note, Daniel and Henrik posted Corsi For percentages of 56.2 and 56.1, respectively.

These three players never built their games around speed, but with strong puck possession skills. Jagr can still score goals, and he’d have one of the best set-up men of all-time to help him out.

As it stands now, Gagner or Eriksson figure to play with the Sedins next season. But with his style of play, Jagr is probably an ideal fit for the twins. Allow me to throw in that he’d come cheaply on a one-year deal, probably worth no more than $2.5 million. Remember, the Canucks ticket sales went way down last season. But it’s safe to say plenty of fans would be buying tickets to specifically see Jagr and the twins on a line.

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So the Canucks could have a great leader, a productive winger on the Sedins’ line and a guy to help sell tickets. As crazy as it may sound to some, the Vancouver Canucks really should think about adding Jaromir Jagr to their “rebuilding” 2017-18 squad.

*Stats courtesy of Hockey Reference*