When the Carolina Hurricanes acquired Jussi Jokinen from the Tampa Bay Lightning, they knew they were getting someone who could deliver a clutch goal in the shootout. What they soon found out is Jokinen is far more than just a one trick pony.
Injuries played a huge part in Jokinen not repeating his 30-goal, 65-point season from a year ago. The Finn still managed to put up decent numbers this season, including a positive plus/minus (something the Canes don't have many of) and eight powerplay goals (good for second on the team) despite missing 12 games.
In his six years in the NHL, Jokinen has transformed from a wild, one-handed shootout scorer, into a dependable and versatile point producer. GM Jim Rutherford will have to decide if the Hurricanes can afford to keep a player like Jokinen. Although he has had his best statistical seasons in Raleigh, the forward could be highly sought after during free agency.
|2010 - Jussi Jokinen||70||19||33||52||3||24||8||0||1||136|
The Good: Jokinen continues to improve his all-around game. He is relied on heavily on the powerplay (18 goals over the past two seasons) and is beginning to be used to kill penalties as well. While injuries slowed him down this season, Jokinen has proved to be a legitimate goal scorer and playmaker.
His adaptability to various roles on the team make him a favorite among fans and in the locker room. He looks comfortable both playing in the top six or on checking lines. He is a left-winger that can fill in at center if ever needed. His leadership translates into his play on the ice; scoring clutch goals, making sound decisions and hardly ever taking bad penalties.
The Bad: Many feel that Jokinen has another level to his game. Jokinen might have the potential to be a perennial 70-80 point player who contends for spots on All-Star teams. That being said, regressing from 30 goals to 19 the next year is never good. It took a good part of the season for Jokinen to find his groove.
Also, a huge reason Rutherford took a chance on him was his ability to perform in the shootout. He came into this season scoring on 52% of his chances (26 goals on 50 shots), yet was only 2 out of 10 this year. He has the most shootout goals in NHL history, but it looks as though the goalies had him figured out this year.
The Money: Jokinen will be an unrestricted free agent this summer and his name has popped up on several teams' radars. During his end-of-season press conference, Rutherford said that he expected both Jokinen and fellow Finn Joni Pitkanen to test the free-agent waters. This would mean that either Rutherford throws a lot of money and years at Jokinen or Jokinen takes a 'hometown discount' (both situations rather unlikely) to stay on the Hurricanes, a team where he feels comfortable.
Jokinen earned $1.9 million last season with a $1.7 million cap hit. The Hurricanes would more than likely be willing to give him a pay raise in order to keep him, but Rutherford is not known for jumping the gun on free agents (either in contract years or dollar amounts).
How would you grade Jussi Jokinen's past season and why? Do you think the Hurricanes should re-sign him, or should they cut "The Juice" loose?