Carolina Hurricanes forward Jussi Jokinen had a career year last season. He almost doubled his previous career high of 17 goals with his 30 tallies and he finished with a total of 65 points, 10 higher than his heralded rookie year in Dallas.
The Hurricanes acquired the native of Finland in a one-sided trade with the Tampa Bay Lightning midway through the 2008-09 season as they unloaded the salaries of Wade Brookbank and Joseph Melichar and sent Tampa a fourth round pick in exchange for the sharpshooter. Jokinen went on to be a playoff hero as he notched several important goals during the 2009 postseason.
Now Jokinen is a fan favorite as some even shout his name during the "National Anthem." He is being counted on to perform well again this coming year. Will he be able to surpass last season's career best totals?
The Good: Jokinen had a team high 30 goals in 2009-10 and finished third on the team with 65 points. He also led the team with a shooting percentage of over 18%. The Finn has a great shot and coaches would probably love to see him shoot more often. Jokinen is a very flexible player and can be moved around to different positions on the ice. Center, left wing, right wing, he can be effective anywhere. He also has one of the best shootout percentages in the NHL. So far for the Canes, he has been clutch more often than not and had a team high six game winning goals last year.
The Bad: There is not much negative to say about this player. He can be taken advantage of on defense at times, although his plus/minus was a respectable +3. Jokinen is not known as a physical player and can be out muscled along the boards or in battles for the puck.
The Money: Jokinen is in the final year of a two-year contract which will pay him $1.9 million this coming season. His cap hit is only $1.7 million. The following year he will be an unrestricted free agent and will be due a huge raise. Will the Hurricanes be able to afford him?
Discussion: Based upon his salary and your expectations, what grade would you give Jussi Jokinen? What does he need to do to improve? How do you think he will do this coming season?
For previous team grades, check out this link: 2009-10 Canes Country Exit Analysis.