GM Dale Tallon to discuss future of forward in Florida, hopes to have coach in place prior to draft

The agent for Jaromir Jagr will meet with the Florida Panthers to discuss the forward’s future, general manager Dale Tallon told Sportsnet on Saturday.

“It’s a matter of what’s best for [Jagr],” Tallon said. “Jaromir is very honest and a sincere, intelligent guy. The first question is if he wants to play and come back. The second question is whether we’ll be able to come together on a deal that makes sense for both of us.”

The meeting with agent Petr Svoboda will take place during the IIHF World Championship in France and Germany. Jagr will not play for the Czech Republic in the 16-team tournament that begins May 5.

Jagr, 45, can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. He has played on a one-year contract for each of the past six seasons: for the Philadelphia Flyers in 2011-12, Dallas Stars in 2012-13, New Jersey Devils from 2013-15, and the Panthers the past two seasons.

Tallon acquired Jagr in a trade with the Devils on Feb. 26, 2015.

“He doesn’t want to go more than one year at a time,” Tallon said. “He’s a real quality guy and doesn’t want to put anybody in any [bad] position.”

NHL teams must protect seven forwards, three defensemen and one goaltender; or eight skaters (forwards/defensemen) and one goaltender in the NHL Expansion Draft, with the list due June 17.

The Vegas Golden Knights, who begin play next season, have to select at least 20 players under contract for next season among their 30 choices (one from each NHL team), which will be revealed June 21.

Jagr is second on the NHL all-time scoring list with 1,914 points (765 goals, 1,149 assists) behind Wayne Gretzky, who had 2,857 points (894 goals, 1,963 assists). Jagr had 46 points (16 goals, 30 assists) this season and was one of five Panthers to play all 82 games.

“I still love the game,” Jagr said April 3. “I still want to get better every day I step on the ice. Nothing has changed the last 20 years I’ve played hockey. The drive is still there. I still believe I can get better. The main thing is I love the game, so I have to wait [to see] what’s going to happen.”

Tallon also said Saturday he is in the process of interviewing coaching candidates and hopes to have someone in place before the 2017 NHL Draft at United Center in Chicago on June 23-24.

“We’ve interviewed a half-dozen guys already and there are so many good candidates; it’s exciting to get to know some guys that I normally would not know,” Tallon said. “We’re going to take our time, do it right and want someone that’s going to be a good communicator, is contemporary and someone that works well with young players. Someone who could be patient and teach them as well.”

Rowe was relieved of duties as GM and coach on April 10 and now serves as special adviser to Tallon. The Panthers finished 14 points behind the Toronto Maple Leafs for the second wild into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference after finishing first in the Atlantic Division with 103 points last season.

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