Feb 8, 2012; San Jose, CA, USA; Calgary Flames center Olli Jokinen (13) celebrates after scoring his third goal of the game against the San Jose Sharks during the third period at HP Pavilion. Calgary defeated San Jose, 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Jason O. Watson-US PRESSWIRE

Where Does Jokinen Play?

Dec. 16, 2011: Sunrise, FL, USA; Calgary Flames center Olli Jokinen (13) celebrates his first period goal against the Florida Panthers at the BankAtlantic Center. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

The Jets’ big offseason acquisition was the July 2nd signing of centerman Olli Jokinen. At $9M over two seasons, Jokinen will be expected to produce offensive numbers that at least match last season’s 61 point effort in Calgary. The big pivot instantly gives the Jets’ top-six some added credibility. There’s just one detail that needs to be covered…

1C or 2C: That is the question

Jokinen’s best years came in Florida when the former third overall pick (1997, LA Kings) flirted with being a superstar. He scored 77 goals and 180 points between ’05-’06 and ’06-’07, and even contributed a positive output in the plus/minus category. He was undeniably a top-line center and has treated as such ever since. Despite the new big price tag, this is not the Jokinen that the Jets signed this summer.

Olli Jokinen – The Early Years:

Season

Tm

GP

G

A

PTS

+/-

PIM

GW

S

S%

ATOI

2000-01

FLA

78

6

10

16

-22

106

0

121

5

13:23

2001-02

FLA

80

9

20

29

-16

98

0

153

5.9

18:05

2002-03

FLA

81

36

29

65

-17

79

6

240

15

22:02

2003-04

FLA

82

26

32

58

-16

81

8

280

9.3

22:35

2005-06

FLA

82

38

51

89

14

88

9

351

10.8

20:29

2006-07

FLA

82

39

52

91

18

78

8

351

11.1

20:32

2007-08

FLA

82

34

37

71

-19

67

5

341

10

19:54

Since his best years Jokinen has experienced a steady decline in production and has consistently posted big negatives in the plus/minus department. A career minus-111 shows dedication to defensive ineptitude. This is the key stat that the Jets need to find a way to fix.

If Jokinen plays on the top line – assumedly beside Andrew Ladd and Blake Wheeler – the big minus stats will continue. The center’s best attributes aren’t being a shutdown forward, it’s being a playmaker. The top-line should be left alone, Bryan Little continuing to center Ladd and Wheeler. These three give the Jets the best chance to shutdown other team’s top lines (think Staal-Staal-Semin in Carolina, or Ovechkin and Backstrom in Washington), while the second line will be depended on to put a lot of rubber on net.

Take a look at what Jokinen has done since leaving the Panthers and it’s not easy to understand a $9M payday.

Olli Jokinen – Escape From FLA:

Season

Tm

GP

G

A

PTS

+/-

PIM

GW

S

S%

ATOI

2008-09

TOT

76

29

28

57

-12

67

3

236

12.3

18:53

2008-09

PHX

57

21

21

42

-5

49

2

169

12.4

18:10

2008-09

CGY

19

8

7

15

-7

18

1

67

11.9

21:03

2009-10

TOT

82

15

35

50

3

75

3

236

6.4

17:52

2009-10

CGY

56

11

24

35

2

53

2

162

6.8

18:30

2009-10

NYR

26

4

11

15

1

22

1

74

5.4

16:29

2010-11

CGY

79

17

37

54

-17

44

1

208

8.2

17:47

2011-12

CGY

82

23

38

61

-12

54

5

223

10.3

18:58

Career

 

1042

292

391

683

-111

967

52

2977

9.8

18:39

What General Manager Kevin Cheveldayoff is hoping for is that Jokinen can boost the Jets’ power play while creating a formidable second line.

Last season Evander Kane and Alexander Burmistrov showed some good chemistry, combining on 14 goals. With a veteran playmaker like Jokinen playing between the two skilled youngsters, there’s the potential for Jokinen to have his best season since ’07-’08. Top-line responsibilities will be shed and he’ll be allowed to focus on getting the puck up ice, and onto the capable sticks of Kane and Burmistrov.

The top line will need to neutralize opponents’ star performers, while the second line – including Jokinen – will be given every opportunity to dominate the score sheet.

Tags: Burmistrov Cheveldayoff Kane Ladd Little Olli Jokinen Wheeler Winnipeg Jets

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