Jul 6, 2012, 8:00 AM EDT
Since leaving the Florida Panthers, Olli Jokinen‘s reputation plummeted from “Rick Nash-type star on a bad team”* to something of a punchline. Yet with the help of Brent Sutter, Jokinen turned around his career during the last two seasons with the Calgary Flames, producing a solid 61 points in 2011-12. That redemptive run helped him earn a two-year, $9 million contract with the Winnipeg Jets, a move Sutter praised when speaking with Ken Wiebe.
“He’s a real good example of a player who, as he got up in age, he understood the importance of changing his game. To get a guy like Olli, it’s a great move by the Jets.” Sutter said. “He really flourished. The last two years, his game went to a whole new level, as far as the type of player he was. With doing it, he was still able to contribute and put up offensive numbers.”
In fact, Sutter called Jokinen the Flames’ “top forward” from last season, which is pretty high praise on a team that employs Jarome Iginla.
Interestingly enough, Jokinen’s $4.5 million cap hit ranks as the highest mark among Jets forwards – although that might change if Evander Kane signs – and ties him for the second-highest Winnipeg player alongside Ron Hainsey. (Dustin Byfuglien‘s $5.2 million cap hit tops the team.)
Adding Jokinen isn’t really a splashy move, but if you ask Sutter, it might just be a great one.
* – It’s not as crazy a comparison as you might think. Jokinen generated 91 and 89-point seasons with Florida and scored 34+ goals four different times.
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