With his ice time dwindling and his team's playoff chances all but gone, Jaromir Jagr is ready to move on from the New Jersey Devils in an NHL deadline trade.
According to a series of tweets from Devils beat writer Tom Gulitti, the veteran winger feels it would be better for himself and the team.
"If I stay here and we're not going to have a chance to playoffs, I don't think I'm going to play at all. And I still like to play," Jagr said. "I love this team, but if it's going to be after the trading deadline and we're going to be [out of contention], it's going to get worse. [The coach is] probably going to play guys who've got a contract next year or young guys. It's understandable, don't you think?"
Jagr wasn't caught off guard when the new coaching staff, led by general manager Lou Lamoriello, cut his ice time. "I knew it was going to happen. I knew it," he said. "There is a history, so I knew it. The coach is changing. That's what it is. That's the way it is. It's not the first time it happened to me and I don't mind it.”
Asked if he'd spoken to Lamoriello about his playing time, Jagr said no. "Do you think it's going to change anything? I don't think so.”
Despite a downtick in his production lately—he has just one assist in his past eight games—it's likely that Lamoriello could find a buyer if he decides to sell. That, however, is not a sure thing. He's repeatedly said his only goal is to make the playoffs and while the Devils' chances are slim—they're currently 11th in the Eastern Conference, eight points behind the eighth-place Bruins with no games in hand—they've yet to be mathematically eliminated.
But even Lamoriello can't ignore the grim reality of their situation. New Jersey has three games remaining before Monday's trade deadline, including a pivotal match on Friday night at the Prudential Center against the Bruins. Lose that one and it's pretty much church for the Devils. But even if they win all three, their chances remain in the low single digits. Lamoriello would be hard pressed to justify hanging on to an expiring asset under those circumstances.
Given the expected demand, look for Jagr to be moved, likely for a mid-round pick, before the bell rings.