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Playoffs highlighting Jussi Jokinen’s campaign of redemption

May 8, 2014, 9:56 AM EDT

Jussi Jokinen AP

In late March 2013, no one wanted Jussi Jokinen‘s three-year, $9 million contract.

He was having an off-year with 11 points and a minus-eight rating in 33 contests, so when Carolina put him on waivers, he cleared. The Pittsburgh Penguins agreed to take him, but only for a conditional seventh-round pick and even then, the Hurricanes had to retain $900,000 of his annual cap hit.

Pittsburgh saw immediate returns on their investment as Jokinen stepped up for the battered Penguins for what was left of the 2013 campaign, but when the Penguins got healthy for the playoffs, Jokinen’s role was marginalized.

This season has been a completely different story. He scored 21 goals and 57 points in 81 games and has been an even bigger contributor in the playoffs. Jokinen scored his third game-winning goal of the 2014 postseason last night.

Granted, it was off of Rangers defenseman Marc Staal‘s skate, but he showed a lot of determination on the play. More importantly, his accomplishments go far beyond his efforts last night as he now leads the team in playoff goals with six in 10 games.

“I think if you’re picking a playoff pool and you’re looking for an overtime guy or a guy that’s going to score a big goal, he’s a guy who has consistently done that,” Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said, per the team’s website.

Jokinen, 31, is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. The Penguins are likely to make a significant effort to re-sign him after the campaign he’s had, but if he does end up hitting the open market, it seems safe to assume that the same teams that balked at his cap hit a year ago would love to sign him at that price now.

  1. pitpenguinsrulez - May 8, 2014 at 10:04 AM

    He’s made that deal look like a big time steal. If Sid doesn’t break his jaw then one has to say that we don’t get Jokinen.

    • 7mantel - May 8, 2014 at 10:13 AM

      Sid broke Jokinens jaw ?

    • hockey412 - May 8, 2014 at 11:13 AM

      So Jokinen comes out of Carolina and looks like a stud, Staal goes to Carolina and falls into criticism and obscurity. Maybe the coaching change was the best thing to do there.

  2. penguins87and71 - May 8, 2014 at 10:21 AM

    Sucks that his a free agent after this season, would love to resign him. Sucks that it might come down to signing Jokinen or Niskanen. Which one would you sign?

    • runhigh24 - May 8, 2014 at 10:24 AM

      The Penguins have seemingly unlimited defense prospects and essentially no forward prospects. That has to go a long way in their decision making. Plus I suspect Niskanen will be more highly sought after on the UFA market.

      • jobotjones - May 8, 2014 at 10:34 AM

        Niskanen will cost more to keep in all likelihood. Prospects aside, that’s a tough spot to fill for next year if he leaves.

    • pitpenguinsrulez - May 8, 2014 at 10:47 AM

      I’d love to keep Niskanen. He’s been rock solid all year and was quite helpful on the powerplay at times. A right hand D use to be the biggest cry in Pittsburgh for a while. With Niskanen you have that but I’d resign him only if I could buy out Scuds. Ultimately tho I see us keeping Jokinen over him.

    • dirt2013 - May 8, 2014 at 10:49 AM

      Niskanen will cost twice as much and if he hits the open market he is gone.

    • hockey412 - May 8, 2014 at 10:55 AM

      The bigger question is Orpik or Niskanen (if either), and Jokinen/Stempniak/Goc…they got some rental players this year that they may be able to resign at a decent price…and they should do so. Jokinen I’d keep if I were Shero unless he’s looking for above $3.5. Stempniak and Goc…not sure what they’d want.

      And for gad’s sake they better re-sign Gibbons. What a little tyrant.

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