Will Jagr return?
Speculation is swirling Jaromir Jagr will return to the NHL in 2011-12. (Getty Images)
Will Jagr return?
Amid the anticipation of the NHL draft weekend and speculation of player trades came reports a former NHL great was hoping to make a return next season.
Thirty-nine-year-old Jaromir Jagr, who spent the past three seasons with Avangard Omsk in Russia, has not only let it be known he's interested in returning to the NHL, but also had his agent, Petr Svoboda, contact several teams and offer his services.
So far the Detroit Red Wings appear to be the only club that has made an offer, but GM Ken Holland said he'll need to know Jagr's intent before July 1, when the free agent market opens.
Jagr also expressed interest in returning to Pittsburgh, the team he began his career with and played for 10-plus seasons. GM Ray Shero has spoken with Jagr and Svoboda, but said he's yet to make an offer, wishing to speak with his staff to determine the level of interest.
Don't expect Jagr to return to the New York Rangers, the last NHL team he played for prior to his departure to the KHL. He said he's only spoken with teams interested in his services and hasn't heard from the Blueshirts.
Svoboda suggested a third, unnamed team also expressed interest. Chicago GM Stan Bowman denied rumors it was his squad, while the New Jersey Devils and Buffalo Sabres also reportedly denied interest.
The Montreal Canadiens were also at one point thought to be on Jagr's wish list, but it appears their attention is on re-signing their own players, inking blueliner Andrei Markov to a three-year extension worth $5.75 million per season and reportedly making an offer to Roman Hamrlik.
Svoboda denied speculation his client's interest in returning to the NHL was merely to gain leverage in contract talks with KHL teams.
One wild rumor had the Washington Capitals interested in bringing back Jagr, but given how badly his previous tenure with the Capitals ended, don't expect team owner Ted Leonsis to lay down the welcome mat.
If Jagr does return next season, expectations must be realistic. That club wouldn't be getting the superstar who was the league's top offensive player at the turn of the century, but rather a fading star who'll be best in power play situations. With the right linemates, Jagr could still be a capable depth scorer in the NHL, but don't expect huge numbers.
BRAD RICHARDS WON’T BE TRADED BEFORE JULY 1
After weeks of speculation, the Dallas Stars won't be shopping the negotiating rights to pending UFA center Brad Richards.
Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News reported Richards won't waive his no-trade clause, nullifying any last-ditch attempt by the Stars to move Richards in hopes of getting at least a draft pick in return.
With the L.A. Kings and Columbus Blue Jackets having acquired centers Mike Richards and Jeff Carter from the Philadelphia Flyers - and that team's investment in goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov - Richards may find a narrow market for his services by July 1.
Martin Fennelly of the Tampa Tribune suggested it was possible Richards would return to the Lightning, who dealt him in 2008 to the Stars as a cost-cutting move, but believed he'd have to accept a pay cut to do so.
The Lightning have other needs to address, such as re-signing center Steven Stamkos, defenseman Eric Brewer and perhaps goalies Dwayne Roloson and Mike Smith.
If the Bolts fail to re-sign Stamkos and lose him to an offer sheet it would create the right condition to bring back Richards. But don’t count on that happening.
Damien Cox of the Toronto Star believes if Richards wants the big dollars, the only teams he'll get it from are the Maple Leafs and Rangers. It may set up a bidding war between the clubs.
Larry Brooks of the New York Post suggested the Flyers could jump into the bidding, but unless they shed even more salary in the wake of dealing Carter and Mike Richards, they’d just find themselves with the same salary cap problems as before the trades.
SENATORS INTERESTED IN GABORIK?
Ottawa Senators GM Bryan Murray is in the market for a top-six scoring forward, which the Ottawa Citizen reported links the club to Rangers right winger Marian Gaborik in recent trade talks.
Gaborik's high salary ($7.5 million per season) and lengthy injury history makes him a gamble for the Senators and a trade likely won't happen unless the Rangers were willing to take one of Ottawa's bad contracts in return, such as Filip Kuba or Sergei Gonchar.
Rumor Roundup appears Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Foxsports.com and Eishockey News.