February 02, 2010
Look, as underwhelming, overpaid and undesirable an acquisition as Olli Jokinen(notes) might seem to be, the notion that last night's swap between the New York Rangers and the Calgary Flames could be detrimental to the Rangers is sort of baffling.
Hell, clearing Kotalik's contract and Higgins's hometown jitters might have been worth it for Brandon Prust(notes) alone, and all he does is fight. (Although, to be fair: There was a moment last night in which he was the leading trending topic on Twitter.)
This trade is like someone with a lactose intolerance swapping two spoiled milkshakes for a slice of day-old pizza; at least there's still a chance you can hold your nose and enjoy the pepperoni.
Yet less than 24 hours after the trade (finally) became official, there are some interesting minority opinions on what the majority sees as a slam-dunk for Glen "Fire" Sather. Has Olli Jokinen's game and reputation regressed to the point where even an apparent steal can turn sour? Are there reasons to worry about Olli, beyond the ready availability of a good razor in the Rangers locker room to take care of that follicle nightmare on his upper lip?
(UPDATE: An email from Mrs. Jokinen telling us we stink at the bottom of post.)
Mike Chen of From The Rink sees Jokinen's downward trend continuing on Broadway:
Ah, work ethic -- you know, the thing that John Tortorella $!*&ing loves more than anything else. Here's the problem facing Jokinen: he's trending downward, his passion and leadership have been questioned in his last three stops, and he's not getting any younger. Based on that, I'm guessing Jokinen starts out well for New York before falling into Tortorella's doghouse, where he plays out the rest of the season and heads into free agency for the highest bidder. Someone will overpay, and Jokinen will play well for 20 games before he falls into another rut, and the fans label the deal as one of the worst in the off-season.
The "highest bidder?" The question is where Jokinen's stock is right now, and where it is if he finds a groove with the Rangers, as far as scoring something in the $5.5 million range next summer. Not sure if there will be a bidding war for him or not.
Steven Ovadia of Puck Update sees the trade as two teams pushing garbage around:
It'll be interesting to see where the Rangers place Jokinen. My guess is he won't play with Marian Gaborik(notes) most of the time, in an attempt to give the Rangers the illusion of depth and scoring.
So the Rangers dump some dead weight and get back a difficult personality they won't have to deal with for long. The Flames dump that same personality and get back some players the seem to think they can get going. It's a lot of bad pieces moving around, but at least the bad pieces are evenly spread.
Larry Brooks of the NY Post writes that "for better or for worse, Olli Jokinen is a Ranger" and ponders his chemistry issues:
Even if the Rangers don't seem to be subtracting all that much of immediate value, one wonders what the dynamic will be like with Jokinen, who was unable to develop any sort of rapport with All-Star right winger Jarome Iginla(notes) after joining the Flames at last year's trade deadline.
File Jonathan Willis of Hockey or Die under "cautiously optimistic" about Jokinen with the Rangers and beyond, thanks to an analysis of his stats:
We see a sharp decrease after Jokinen left the Southeast Division, but he's still averaging in the neighborhood of three shots per game. The sharp decrease is his shooting percentage, which has dropped from better than 10.0% to less than 7.0%. To put that drop in perspective, if Jokinen were averaging the same shooting percentage that he had last season, he'd already have 20 goals.
Any number of factors could be impacting Jokinen's shooting percentage, but it's unlikely to be a permanent decline; many players see their shooting percentage dip or spike for unknown reasons, but in the vast majority of cases they return to their career levels. For that reason, I'd say that Jokinen is a very good bet to return to the 25-30 goal range wherever he plays next season.
The Prospect Park had an inventive dissention, claiming the trade was a troubling one because it'll give Sather too much cap space to make another mistake next summer:
If Sather wanted to make a deal then he would have found a way to address the defensive corps that is a combined -23 and can not stop anyone. That is what a trade is supposed to do address a weak area on the team.
OK you want to say the Rangers needed to add scoring which might be right except if all of the scoring is put on one line then the move still makes no sense. All this trade is doing is potentially giving Sather a chance to find another bad player to sign next July 1.
That last critique may be the best one of the trade, because otherwise it's chatter about perceived chemistry issues before they happen or the degradation of an offensive game that, even in this season-long slump, makes Jokinen the team's second-highest scoring center (11-24-35) behind the Gaborik-inflated Vinny Prospal(notes).
The Rangers drop two riddles and welcome The Joker for a few months. Why so serious?
• • •
UPDATE 3:20 p.m. EST: We dish it out, we can take it. So in the interest of fairness, we yield the floor to Katerina Jokinen (photo here), whose email address we've independently verified as being that of Mrs. Olli Jokinen. From the PD inbox, unedited:
I have a pretty thick skin when it comes to articles written about my husband and I'm not very easily disturbed or get upset so I don't want you to think about what I'm about to say comes from a wrong place but PLEASE consider changing your proffession if writing crap like this is it.
I honestly cannot remember reading a worse article in my life! Really really really BAD writing.
If she only knew how much support she has among Puck Daddy readers for those comments ...