Could Jagr possibly move to second all-time in points?

Jaromir Jagr's time at the Vancouver Olympics with the czech Republic (shown here facing Russia) was the only time in three seasons he played in North America. If he stayed in the NHL he could have reached 2,000 points. (s.yume/Wikimedia Commons)

Jaromir Jagr’s time at the Vancouver Olympics with the Czech Republic (shown here facing Russia) was the only time in three seasons he played in North America. If he stayed in the NHL he could have reached 2,000 points. (s.yume/Wikimedia Commons)

By: Chris Messina

@cmessina85

Jaromir Jagr told TSN’s Ray Ferraro in an interview this past weekend that his goal was to finish his career in second in career points behind Gretzky, but he doesn’t think that will happen because he played three years in the KHL. If he had stayed in North America his whole career he might have.

Currently Jagr has 1,658 points, 229 fewer than Mark Messier who is second all-time. If you take the three years and 286 games that the Czech superstar would have played in the NHL and multiple it by his career average of 1.23 points-per-game then he could have had 303 more points. That would put him well ahead of Mark Messier with 1,961 points.

  1. Wayne Gretzky – 2,857
  2. Mark Messier – 1,887
  3. Gordie Howe – 1,850
  4. Ron Francis – 1,798
  5. Marcel Dionne – 1,771
  6. Steve Yzerman – 1,755
  7. Mario Lemieux – 1,723
  8. Jaromir Jagr – 1,658

His numbers were in decline his last three years in the NHL with the New York Rangers before he left for Avangard Osmk Region. From 2005-06 through ’07-08 he produced 123, 96 and 71 points, thus it is not fair to assume that he would have maintained his career points per-game average from ’08-09 to ’10-11. But given the production we have seen from him the past two years it’s not a stretch to assume that he could have averaged 65 points a year in that time. If he did, he would have 1,918 points today which would have placed him second all-time and positioned him to have a very realistic chance at becoming the only player besides Gretzky to crack the 2,000 point plateau.

Last year, his first year back in the NHL, he had 54 points in 73 games which is an average of 0.74 points per game. This year he has 13 points in 17 games, an average of 0.76 per game (these numbers are through February 24, 2013). Even thought the year is still young and lots can happen (e.g. slumps and injuries), Jagr has showed that he can still be a very good secondary offensive player on a competitive team even if he isn’t what he used to be. He turned 41 back on February 15, so Father Time isn’t in his corner, but he still might have another year or two left in him after this one. He’s most likely not going to join the 2,000 point club but maybe he could catch Messier if all the stars align.

Let’s pretend because of his commitment to fitness and the way he takes care of his body he retires at 45. That would give him four more playing years after this one.  Now let’s also assume that he stays relatively healthy and plays 27 of the Stars’ remaining 30 games (again this is through February 24, 2012) and then averages 72 games until end of the 2016-17 season; He would then have 315 regular season games left in his career, bringing his games played total to 1,678, not an unrealistic total. If his production decreases to 0.7 point-per-game (Teemu Selanne has a 0.95 points-per-game average in the past three seasons and he’s two years older than Jagr) then he would finish with 207 more points. That would give him a grand total of 1,887 regular season points, the same Messier finished with. An odd bounce here or there and suddenly he trails only Gretzky.

It goes without saying all of these numbers are hypothetical. We don’t know how much longer he will play beyond this year or if he will even finish his career in the NHL (Editor’s Note: Jagr has stated before he would like to finish his career in the Czech Republic. He played with Knights of Kladno in his hometown during this lockout and whether that’s enough for him remains to be seen). We have no idea how productive he will be and there is no way to predict if he can avoid injuries, but it is fun to think about what he might be able to accomplish if he plays into his mid 40s like Chris Chelios did with the Detroit Red Wings and the Atlanta Thrashers before retiring at the end of the 2009-10 season (which he played most of in the minors).

Jagr’s career has been incredible regardless of what happens. He’s been a superstar that was able to produce massive amounts of points during the prime of his career which was played in a very defensive era but maybe the one aspect of his game that we have overlooked is his durability. Only three times in his career has he played fewer than 70 games (not including lockout/strike years) and that is a big reason why he has been as so productive.

The odds are against Jagr catching Messier for second all time but so were the odds against him coming back to the NHL and being as productive as he has been. Only time will tell if he can do it. Regardless, it will sure be a lot of fun to watch.

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