The Florida Panthers would love to have Jaromir Jagr back next season.
Panthers general manager Dale Tallon said he will wait for word from the 44-year-old veteran on whether he wants to return for a 22nd NHL season, but the team would be happy to have him back.
"Oh, of course," Tallon said in a recent interview. "Jaromir will let me know. He's a proud guy and he knows (what he wants). We don't have to worry about that (yet). He'll come to me and say 'I want to stay here' or 'I want to talk about a new deal'. He'll let us know. We're taking it one day at a time here, but that guy will let me know."
The two sides haven't had talks yet, Tallon said.
Jagr has signed one-year contracts for each of the past five seasons, including with the Panthers for the last two campaigns. He'll become an unrestricted free agent once again this summer.
Tallon describes the future Hall of Famer as a model for his young players. He sees Jagr tutoring 20-year-old Aleksander Barkov and 22-year-old Jonathan Huberdeau daily.
"Our young guys, they thought they were working hard till they saw him," Tallon said.
Jagr recently passed Brett Hull for sole possession of third place in NHL scoring with 742 goals. He scored twice Saturday in a 3-1 win over Winnipeg and leads the Atlantic Division-leading Panthers in both goals (20) and points (43).
Jagr, the oldest player in the league, is on pace for 28 goals and 61 points.
"I love the game," he said Saturday. "There's a million people who wanted to be in my position. If I can play in the NHL, why not keep going?''
— With files from The Associated Press
Jonas Siegel, The Canadian Press