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Jaromir Jagr, left, topped the Rangers with 15 points in 10 playoff games this year. ((Julie Jacobson/Associated Press))

Free agent Jaromir Jagr was set to open negations this week on a new contract with the New York Rangers, according to a report in the New York Post.

Despite speculation that Jagr, 36, might retire or play in Russia next season, the high-scoring centre and his representatives have already engaged in preliminary talks with Rangers general manager Glenn Sather, the Post reported last Sunday.

"Jags would like to stay — he doesn't want to leave New York — and Slats [Sather] has told me that he feels the same way," Pat Brisson, who with J.P. Barry represents Jagr, told the paper late last week. "We're going to begin to talk about a contract in the next week or so.

"Jags feels good about himself as a player and about what he and the Rangers can accomplish together."

Jagr completed the final season of his seven-year, $78-million US contract when the Rangers were eliminated in the second round of the NHL playoffs by the Pittsburgh Penguins on May 4. The Czech, who signed the deal upon being traded from Pittsburgh to the Washington Capitals in June 2001, becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

Jagr could have triggered a lucrative option year by reaching certain statistical markers in the regular season or by winning the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP, but failed to do either despite playing brilliantly down the stretch and into the playoffs.

Jagr led the Rangers with 71 points in the regular season, and racked up 15 points in 10 playoffs games — the highest total among all players after two rounds.

"I don't think I'm going to retire from hockey," Jagr, who played with Avangard Omsk of the Russian league during the NHL lockout, said after the Rangers were eliminated. "I know I'm going to play somewhere. I don't know where."

"It would probably be a tough situation if I didn't know I was going to play anymore. But I still feel like I got many years left if I decide to work at it. It's all about work ethic and how hard you want to work."