Jussi Jokinen is the guy Carolina just didn't have a place for anymore. Indeed the Hurricanes were so willing to part with him -- and eager to open some salary-cap space -- that they agreed to pick up 30 percent of his $3 million salary if the Penguins would take him off their hands at the trade deadline this spring. Carolina's requested return: A seventh-round draft choice payable only if Jokinen appeared in 25 percent of the Penguins' playoff games and the team reached the Stanley Cup final. Which it didn't. Consequently the Penguins got Jokinen for less than they would have if say they had claimed him on waivers. Which coincidentally enough he cleared just a few days before the trade. Jokinen fit in nicely with the Penguins from the first game he arrived and Saturday made it clear that he isn't just seeking to hold on to a place with this team; he's looking for a prominent one. Jokinen skating on a line with Evgeni Malkin and James Neal made a compelling place for holding onto that spot scoring all three of the Penguins' goals in a 5-3 preseason loss to Columbus at Consol Energy Center. Even so Jokinen's rampage -- he recorded a natural hat trick in a span of 8:28 in the second period -- probably didn't guarantee he'll be alongside Malkin and Neal when the regular season opens Oct. 3. Not when Beau Bennett the organization's top forward prospect hardly has looked out of place when he has gotten a chance on the second line. "Beau played [the exhibition opener] with James and [Malkin] and played really well and showed a lot in that game" coach Dan Bylsma said. "I think they had eight scoring chances as a group." He quickly added however that "they didn't put the puck in the net to the degree that Jussi did tonight." Not many guys do. In addition to an obvious ability to mesh with Malkin and Neal Jokinen's knack for winning faceoffs -- perhaps the most striking soft spot in Malkin's game -- makes him an attractive option to play there.
Chemistry bodes well for Jokinen
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | Sep 22