Before I start, I would just like to give Laurie at Beyond the Blueshirts a stick salute for uncovering this story first. Now, onto my rambling.
It seems like it is becoming a trend for potential New York Ranger free agents to look to the KHL for next season, as a day after former back-up goaltender Steve Valiquette signed a contract to play over in Russia, reports are now coming out that center Olli Jokinen is close to striking a deal to play overseas as well. Sportsdaily.ru states that negotiations have been in place between the Finnish forward and Dinamo Minsk of the KHL, and a deal is expected to be announced in the coming days.
I must say that this is coming as a bit of a surprise since Jokinen has spoken a lot about not preferring to relocate his family and finally being able to stay in one place. It seemed like he enjoyed the New York life, since the media wasn't breathing down his neck constantly like they may have been up in Calgary. However, while it may come as a shock, it certainly is not a disappointment. Losing Jokinen means $5 million off the books and more cap room for a potential free agent signing.
Jokinen was never really able to find his game while with the Rangers. Just four goals and eleven assists in 26 games are stats that fall short of the expectations you would have for a player making such a large sum of money, and as we know, the Blueshirts have plenty of dead weight like that already in their lineup. I am sure Glen Sather couldn't care less if Jokinen signs elsewhere, because he has clearly lost his edge.
With all that being said, these reports have only come out of Russia so far, while no other source has confirmed it. Until we get more confirmation, take this rumor lightly because their is a chance the deal falls through.