WILMINGTON, Mass. – The Bruins have opened and closed the door for Jaromir Jagr a couple of times this summer, but Peter Chiarelli officially sealed it again on Sunday afternoon.
The Bruins general manager ruled out the 41-year-old as a potential returning free agent for next season, something that likely happened as soon as the ink was dry on the one-year contract with free agent right winger Jarome Iginla.
Instead it sounds like the Bruins are going to go in the direction of some of their own young talent for the vacant winger spots, whether it’s players they dealt for with Dallas (Reilly Smith and Matt Fraser), hopefuls from the Providence Bruins (Ryan Spooner, Jared Knight, Carter Camper or Jordan Caron) or perhaps a youngster or two that flashes from the development camp roster (Anthony Camara).
“I was asked a couple of times about [Jagr], and we’re done for now,” said Chiarelli. “Obviously you want to develop your talent and bring them in and let them play. Sometimes there’s not room for them and sometimes you use them as chips in deals, but you always have to develop. To be in a position where they’re ready to play breathes new life into everybody.
“I think we’re going to have a challenge in that respect because we played so long into the summer. It will be good there will be some young guys that will breathe new life and new enthusiasm into the team.”
There may be mutual interest between Jagr and the Carolina Hurricanes as well as several other NHL clubs, and he proved last season there’s still something in the tank as he scored 16 goals and had 35 assists in 45 games for Dallas and Boston.
Jagr went without a goal in 22 playoff games with the Bruins on the way to the Cup Finals, but he managed 10 assists and an oversized presence on the right wing along with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand.
One thing that is going against Jagr sticking in the NHL for another season: the salary cap.
The chances of Jagr even approaching last year’s salary of $4.5 million doesn’t seem very realistic with the salary cap moving down to $64.3 million, and it may be that the future Hall of Famer has to move back to the KHL to earn that kind of payday.
One thing is for certain, though. He won’t be back in Boston with the Bruins after the mullet had a nice playoff run with the Black and Gold.