After a flurry of signings as the NHL free agency period opened Friday, activity has just about ground to a halt the last couple of days. A big rumor making the rounds on the Internet had future Hall of Famer Jaromir Jagr, the 41-year-old who finished this season with the Boston Bruins, in serious talks with the Buffalo Sabres on a one-year deal.
None of the chatter had any credibility. Then came a report that surfaced Monday in Lidovky, the oldest newspaper in the Czech Republic, that had the Sabres listed as one of Jagr’s main suitors.
It’s not happening.
“I have not talked to anybody in Buffalo and the Sabres have not called,” Petr Svoboda, Jagr’s agent, told The News by phone Tuesday afternoon from his office in Santa Monica, Calif. “It’s absolutely not true. Speculation.”
Most reports have Montreal and Carolina as two of the teams going hard for Jagr, with perhaps Ottawa as the third. Jagr got huge credit for his work with young players last year in Philadelphia and again this year in Dallas, where he signed a one-year contract for $4.55 million before getting traded to Boston at the deadline.
As the theory went, the Sabres could overpay Jagr on a one-year deal because they have the cap room and have him work with their young players – especially center Mikhail Grigorenko – during training camp and the first 50 or so games of the regular season. Then they could move him to a contender at the trade deadline for draft picks or prospects.
Svoboda, who played for the Sabres from 1991-94 as part of a 17-year NHL career on defense, confirmed Jagr is still considering three teams and Buffalo is not one of them. Also not on Jagr’s list is Boston, where he got within two wins of another Stanley Cup last month.
Jagr had 14 goals and 12 assists in 34 games with Dallas, then added two goals and seven assists in 11 games for Boston. But he fizzled badly in the playoffs, failing to score a goal while playing in all 22 of Boston’s postseason games.
Svoboda said a Cup contender is one of Jagr’s priorities but it’s not the only one.
“He had a lot of fun there in Boston but it was an unfortunate finish for Jags,” Svoboda said. “It’s so unpredictable. You don’t know who will go all the way. He just wants to play hockey where it’s fun.”
In other Sabres news, on-ice sessions for the team’s annual development camp begin today in First Niagara Center and are free and open to the public. There are 40 players expected, including all 19 picks from the last two drafts.
The players will be split into two groups, with one skating today from 10:30-noon and the other going from 3-4:30. On Thursday, times are 10:30-noon and 2:15-3:30. The camp concludes with a Blue-Gold scrimmage Friday at 4, which is a ticketed event. Admission is $10, with season ticket-holders receiving a free ticket for each seat in their account. The ticket includes admission to a 10,000 Maniacs concert at Canalside that opens at 6 p.m.