Ladies and gentlemen, the much-ballyhoed Olli Jokinen sweepstakes are finally over. He has chosen his new home, and that new home is in Winnipeg. You can stop ballyhooing now.
The former Calgary Flame has decided that Western Canada (-ish, let's not get into a geography debate here) remains the place to be, signing with the Jets for $9 million over two years for a $4.5 million cap hit.
It's a testament to the quality work that Jokinen did rehabbing his reputation during his second tour of Calgary that we don't find this deal all that bad. When he left the Flames the first time around, his return a half-year later -- even at $3 million per -- was funny, both because he didn't seem worth it and because he hadn't fit all that well in Calgary the first time.
But, two years and 115 points later, Jokinen's new deal looks downright deserved, especially compared to the other players with the same cap hit.
As it stands, there are 10 guys in the league that will eat up $4.5 million dollars on their team's caps this season, and only 1 -- Ray Whitney -- put up more than Jokinen's 61 points last season. (Erik Cole and Tomas Fleischmann matched the number.)
But those guys are wingers. The best comparable might be Brooks Laich, another sizeable centre making $4.5 million next year, and he's never had a 60-point season. Jokinen's had 5, including two years of 89 and 91 points, and he's definitely trending in the right direction. If he finds some linemates in Winnipeg with whom he meshes, he could be a huge steal.
And even if he doesn't get back to a point per game pace, in a league where size, skill, and depth at centre are paramount, this is a smart move for the Jets, especially the day after reuniting Alexei Ponikarovsky with former Leafs' teammate Nik Antropov. With those three, not to mention Evander Kane, Blake Wheeler, and Andrew Ladd, the Jets suddenly have more forwards of mass than a spam folder.
That's clearly the goal here. Either that, or make Bryan Little look hilariously tiny in all the team photos.
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