The Winnipeg Jets made another splash in the free agent market, doing so late Monday as they agreed to terms with veteran centre Olli Jokinen on a two year deal worth 9 million dollars, producing a cap hit of 4.5 million per season, which may seem like a steep price, but when you're bidding for the only decent veteran scoring centre in a shallow free agent pool you're bound to overpay. However, I will not bemoan this deal as I did that of Ondrej Pavelec.
This move plugs a big hole that was overly evident throughout last season in the fact that Winnipeg only had one semi-decent scoring centre in Bryan Little. With Jokinen in the fold, we now have two players fully capable of centering the top 2 lines. This also allows for prized prospect Mark Scheifele more time to develop, as opposed to being plopped into a second line centre role before he reaches "the next level". With Jokinen being 33 years old, turning 34 in December, he is not the centre of the future for the Jets organizations, but should prove to be a more than capable stop gap in the time it takes some of our younger forward prospects to develop.
The move could see the Jets ice a decent core of centres, if as Ben proposed in an earlier post, the Jets go with Little, Jokinen, Jim Slater and Patrice Cormier at centre. This omits Alexander Burmistrov and Nik Antropov as well, who are also both capable of centering a line if needed, though both will likely find themselves on the wing. More talk on potential lines after THE JUMP
#13 / Center / Calgary Flames
Dec 05, 1978
Very excited about joining the WinnipegJets and getting a chance to play in front of the loudest fans in Canada!— Olli Jokinen (@ollijokinen13) July 3, 2012
A durable centre with size, Jokinen played the full 82 game schedule for the Flames last year, notching 23 goals and adding 38 helpers giving him 61 points. One thing about his stat line that IS of concern to me is the 46.5% win percentage at the faceoff dot. I continue to lament the wasted opportunities that have befallen the Jets due to lost faceoffs, whether it be in 5v5 play or on the Powerplay. Other than that stat, I am quite satisfied with Jokinen until one of our "fancy stat" guys tells me I'm wrong.
So with the signings seen this past holiday weekend, the opening day lines have definitely changed from the lines that closed out the season against Tampa Bay. Claude Noel likes to ignore my amazing ideas, but if I were him I would be going with the following(assuming Mach and Kaner sign up):
#16 Andrew Ladd -- #18 Bryan Little -- #26 Blake Wheeler
#9 Evander Kane -- #12 Olli Jokinen -- #8 Alexander Burmistrov
# Alexei Ponikarovsky -- #19 Jim Slater -- #80 Nik Antropov
#20 Antti Miettinen -- #28 Patrice Cormier -- #22 Chris Thorburn
#39 Tobias Enstrom -- #33 Dustin Byfuglien
#6 Ron Hainsey -- #4 Zach Bogosian
#5 Mark Stuart -- #24 Grant Clitsome
#31 Ondrej Pavelec
I'm pretty satisfied with that lineup, and aside from the part where there is no backup goaltender on the bench (it had better not be Edward Pasquale) the starting lineup looks set. But there are still some depth holes to fill, as roster spots previously occupied by Eric Fehr, Tanner Glass, Randy Jones, and Chris Mason need to be filled. GM Kevin Cheveldayoff has said "We're not done by any stretch of the imagination". So until news hits the wire of who will back up pavs, I'll leave you with a good old