Rangers Analysis: Rangers May Want to Consider Pursuing Jussi Jokinen
Note by Joe Fortunato: Nick posted this yesterday, but it got buried with the Drury news. So I'm pumping it again for you all to see.
There's been so much talk about acquiring a first line center this summer that I think people are forgetting about the Rangers' need of additional scoring on the wings, specifically the left wing. As it stands right now, Brandon Dubinsky (RFA), Ruslan Fedotenko (UFA), Wojtek Wolski and Sean Avery are the team's left wings. Besides Dubinsky, there really isn't much offensive production there. If GM Glen Sather would like to strengthen his club down the left side while staying young and using up limited cap space, I think Jussi Jokinen, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, is a very viable option.
Jokinen, age 28, tallied nineteen goals and 33 assists in 70 games played with the Carolina Hurricanes this past year. The season before that, when Jokinen played in 81 of 82 games, he reached the 30-goal mark and finished with a total of 65 points. Those are numbers the Blueshirts would welcome onto their club with open arms, especially since the native of Finland would serve as a secondary source of scoring coming from the wing.
Jokinen possesses an incredible set of hands that he puts to good use around the net. He is a pure goal scorer when he has the puck and he's shown that many times as a member of the 'Canes. He was a fan favorite down in North Carolina and rightly so, because in 2009, when he was acquired via trade from the Tampa Bay Lightning, he played a big part in the Hurricanes' run in the playoffs, which lasted as far as the Eastern Conference Finals. He was also the player who scored that historic game-winning goal with 0.2 seconds left in a quarterfinal series against the Devils, which caused Marty Brodeur to launch his equipment across the rink in disgust.
Jussi is also a shootout specialist as he currently is atop the list of current NHLers in the "most career shooutout goals" category. To be exact, Jokinen has scored 28 times in 60 career shootout attempts, which puts him at about a 47-percent success rate; an extraordinary stat for someone who is put out on the ice basically every time his team enters the tie-breaking skills competition. Believe it or not, this is an important statistic to look at for the Rangers because they do find themselves entering the shootout quite often and would love to add another 1-on-0 master to the lineup.
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The thing that I like most about possibly going after Jokinen is that he shouldn't be ridiculously expensive. His cap hit for the past two seasons has been $1.7 million, and in the open market, that number isn't expected to do anything more than double. If it did double, that would make Jokinen's price tag approximately $3.4 million, which for a potential 30-goal scorer skating on the left wing, is an amount that I would be open to paying.
The priority for the Rangers this summer is to somehow bring in a first line center - I understand that. But they also need to have back-up plans as well as address other weaknesses in the lineup. New York is very weak on the left side, not only now, but in the future as well because they don't have many standout prospects that play the left wing within their system. Jokinen would be an ideal fit here and the circumstances would likely fit right into Glen Sather's budget plan for the summer.
You can never have too many 30-goal scorers at a cap-friendly price of $3.4 million, so I think Jussi Jokinen is most definitely someone the Rangers should keep on their radar come July 1 when the free agent frenzy begins.