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Ralph: Jets are a better team with signing of Jokinen

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Rick Ralph
7/3/2012 12:08:30 PM
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Olli Jokinen is a member of the Winnipeg Jets. The Finnish native agreed to a two-year, $9 million contract with the team. Good? Bad? Too much money? It depends on who you ask.

The Good - The Winnipeg Jets were hoping to improve in the area of top six forwards. Jokinen was considered one of the best centre's available in this year's free agency market. The 6'3", 210lb player certainly adds size up the middle as Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff pointed our during a conference call with the media. Jokinen can score, win face-offs, and add to the team's power play. He's a former captain and has over 1,000 games of NHL experience.

The Bad - Jokinen has very little playoff experience, six games to be exact. However during those games, he accumulated five points (2G, 3A). It's hard to blame the player for a lack of playoff success when the teams he has been playing on haven't made the playoffs.  I am not a big fan of plus-minus because it can be a misleading stat but Jokinen did tell TSN 1290 that he has been working on his all-around game for the past year and a half.

The Money - Brooks Laich, Ville Leino, Erik Cole and Tomas Fleischmann all made $4.5 million last season. Laich scored 41 pts this past season while Cole, Fleischmann and Jokinen all scored 61 pts. So, too, did Thomas Vanek, but he made over $7 million.  Cory Perry made $5.3 million and scored a point less than Jokinen. Even Rick Nash only notched 59 points but was paid considerably more. Obviously, there is more to value than just points but it's easy to justify the money for Jokinen. Plus, it's only two years. 

Jokinen had two other offers on the table and chose the Jets partly on money but there were other factors. Jokinen said he looked at the lineups of the three teams and likes the Jets lineup and how he may fit into it. He says his family likes living in Canada and they are used to cold weather. 

Jokinen knows people wrote him off when he went back to Calgary. He admitted to such during a conference call. Looking ahead, Winnipeg is a new team, with a fresh start for Olli Jokinen. The Jets were able to improve their team with a limited marketplace for affordable centers. That to me, is a good thing.

Olli Jokinen (Photo: Gerry Thomas/NHLI via Getty Images)

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(Photo: Gerry Thomas/NHLI via Getty Images)
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