Quality of Jokinen deal hinges on whether or not Predators make more moves
If this is Nashville's only move, they're in trouble. If they can add more, it looks a lot better.
On its own, Wednesday's signing of Olli Jokinen may seem like a bit of a head scratcher. After all, the team needs a de facto number one center to be able to help James Neal wear out the goal light, and Jokinen is not that guy. He also crowds the center position without drastically improving the lineup.
However, the Predators seem to know this, and are still actively looking to bolster their lineup. If they aren't touting him as the center they're looking for, that's great news.
Make no mistake, even though he's in the downslide of his career, Jokinen does help the roster, at least a little. After an awful first season with the Jets, Jokinen responded by tallying 43 points (18G, 25A) in 82 games last year. Considering that improvement, there's some reason for optimism. Over the last three seasons, he's scored an average of 0.52 points a game. His possession numbers aren't eye popping, and most of his teammates play a little worse when he's on the ice with them. Even so, he's all over the board when it against his most frequent competition. Some good, some bad:
From his 2013-14 season recap from our friends at Arctic Ice Hockey:
Jokinen logged a good share of the Winnipeg Jets five on five ice time and truth be told his possession numbers weren't terrible. A Corsi percentage of 49.2% isn't bad given his defensive zone deployment and the dCorsi shot creation numbers landed in the plus.
...The numbers say, Joker was a sub par top six forward (as should be expected) and a simply average third liner.
Sounds familiar. The difference this time is the Nashville isn't on the hook for the long haul. $2.5 million for a year on a team with tons of cap space isn't terrible. Jokinen will be able to slot on the second or third line (either at center or wing) as needed, and spend some time on the power play. He won't light up the scoresheet anymore, but the at least has now the team has an elite player that will. I'm sure he also has plenty of wisdom to impart on a young player like Calle Jarnkrok.
If this is a signing to give the Predators options when someone else joins the roster, it's not a bad move. If this happens to be all the Predators do, it doesn't make lick of sense. Given the fact that there aren't any good options at center anymore, they'll have to trade for their center. If that's the route they choose to go, it could take a little bit. We'll have to wait and see.