A Czech Republic newspaper with business connections to Jaromir Jagr reported on Wednesday that the 40-year-old winger is "on track to reach agreement" on a return to the Flyers.
Jagr, the NHL's active leader with 1,653 points, kept a blog with iSport.cz during the season.
Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren said he met with Jagr's agent, former Flyers defenseman Petr Svoboda, the day after the season ended. Holmgren said the meeting was positive, even though Jagr's comments on the day the Flyers cleaned out their lockers in Voorhees seemed to put doubt on another season in Philadelphia.
"I think it is fair to say that I have expressed interest in Jaromir returning to the Flyers," Holmgren said on Wednesday. "I think Jaromir has expressed his interest in the Flyers. He had a good year and I think he liked it here."
Jagr's 1-year, $3.3 million deal expires on July 1, the same day free agency opens.
Even if both sides agreed, the Flyers are unable to sign Jagr — or fellow unrestricted free-agent defenseman Matt Carle — to new deals because they would violate the NHL's rule on "tagging space." Teams are not permitted to exceed this year's salary cap ($64.3 million) in commitment's for next season.
The salary cap is expected to rise temporarily to $69 million this summer — with the ability to exceed it by 10 percent (a total of $75.9 million) before the new collective bargaining agreement is hashed out. The current labor deal expires on Sept. 15, on the eve of the opening of training camps.
The Czech paper reported that Jagr would seek a salary with a "rough estimate" near what he earned last season. Jagr collected 19 goals and 35 assists for 54 points in 73 games. Despite visibly slowing in the playoffs, Jagr still netted eight points in 11 games.
Jagr recently completed a vacation, during which he reportedly contemplated his future in the NHL. After last season, Jagr said he would be better if he returned, since he now knows what to expect in NHL-sized rinks after a 3-year run in Russia.
More than money, Jagr wants to be assured of an important role — on a top line with special teams — and a "more regular workload," according to the paper.
The Czech newspaper pegged Jagr's chances of returning to Philadelphia at 65 percent. It reported there is a 30 percent chance he signs in a new market, naming Montreal or Detroit as possibilities, though downplaying it, saying Jagr would need to get used to a new environment and new teammates. There is also a 5 percent chance Jagr returns to his hometown of Kladno in the Czech Republic to play for HC Kladno, the team he owns and his father operates.
"We agreed that we would speak again in late June," Holmgren. "Our hands are tied right now. But there has been no agreement; nothing has been signed, no deal has been worked out so far."
With tagging space limitations, Holmgren said Carle was in the same boat as Jagr. Although other teams will surely be interested in Jagr when free agency opens on July 1, Carle could get an offer that may be too rich for the Flyers' blood.
Carle, 27, is coming off a 4-year, $13.7 million deal. His annual salary could jump to around $5 million on the open market. That doesn't have Holmgren worried. Holmgren still thinks he can re-sign Carle for below market value.