Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports / Reuters / USA TODAY Sports / Reuters
The second-highest scorer in NHL history remains an unrestricted free agent after playing his second full season with the Florida Panthers, and whether he returns to the team or not, Barkov just wants to see Jagr continue his career.
“I hope he signs somewhere,” Barkov said, according to NHL.com’s Tom Gulitti. “Whether it’s the NHL, the KHL or Czech league or anywhere, I just want to see him play.”
Jagr admits he’s been taken aback that he hasn’t been able to find a team. Meanwhile, Barkov – without stepping on management’s toes – wouldn’t be opposed to having his former linemate back in the fold.
“I would be lying if I say no because he helped me so much and probably I would never be in the same situation without him,” Barkov said. “When he came in, I took my game to another level and for sure everybody else on the team did too. He just helped so much everybody on the team and is one of the most important guys in my career.”
Over the past two years, Barkov has posted his two most productive NHL campaigns with 59- and 52-point seasons. The 21-year-old credits Jagr with helping to mold him into the player he is now.
“I learned a lot, like playing differently in different situations and working out and living the life like a pro,” Barkov said. “I was living the life like a pro (before Jagr joined the Panthers), but he took me to another level too, and to love the game a different way because nobody loves the game as much as he does. When you see him doing his own stuff, you take it from him and try to do the same thing and you see it helps you.”
Over the past three seasons Jagr has 60 goals and 159 points in 238 games, good enough for 13th among right wingers, so teams looking to fill out that side of their lineup could certainly do worse.