Memo to the Chicago Blackhawks: Get Olli Jokinen Now

Adam KoppCorrespondent IFebruary 11, 2009

I'm not talking about Jussi Jokinen, the recent Carolina Hurricanes acquisition. Though if I'm not mistaken, his time in Dallas showed him to be a player with dynamite shootout abilities, something the Hawks could certainly use this season.

I'm talking, of course, about the Olli Jokinen, the 30 year old Finnish dynamo that plays for the Phoenix Coyotes

With the financial woes of the Coyotes having been well documented by the press in the last few weeks, TSN has reported that the Montreal Canadiens are rumored to be interested in Jokinen, who is said to be available for trade.

Putting aside the absolute shock of a Canadian network insinuating that a Canadian team is after a star player (some less reputable outlets had Jokinen going to the cellar dwelling Maple Leafs), I am instead choosing to focus on one simple fact: 

With a little under one-and-a-half years remaining on a contract that pays him $5.25 million per season, Olli Jokinen, if actually available for trade, would be a perfect fit on the Blackhawks.


For starters, Jokinen is a center (though he can also play wing) with a multifaceted repertoire. He's an excellent goal scorer, especially in terms of the position he plays. 

Jokinen is two years removed from a 39 goal, 91 point season. 

In addition to his goal scoring abilities, Olli has dished out 51, 52, and 37 assists in the last three years respectively. On a talent strapped Florida Panthers team, posting numbers like that says a lot about his sheer talent and will to thrive in a less than desirable situation.

Jokinen shoots a ton, averaging over 300 shots on goal in each of the last three seasons. That might be a product of his environment, but having an offensive player that can routinely get pucks on net and put pressure on the defense would certainly be a valued asset in the hard nosed Western Conference.

Finally, coming in at 6'3" and weighing 215 lbs, Jokinen is tough to move off the puck, he's willing to go into traffic and even lay a hit or two when called upon. 

Just as the Coyotes money issues are well known to Phoenix fans, the need for a solid, play-making center is certainly well known to Blackhawks faithful.  

Because I simply can't resist, I have come up with what I feel would be a solid offer to the Coyotes:

To Phoenix:  Dustin Byfuglien, Cam Barker, Petri Kontiola and a 2009 Second round draft pick.

To Chicago:  Olli Jokinen.

Though the Coyotes don't save any money in the deal, they trade one high priced veteran for two young, medium priced players that are loaded with potential. From their perspective, they are receiving a big power forward that can also play defense as well as a former third overall draft pick that will undoubtedly captain an NHL power-play in the not too distant future.

While Kontiola is still in the prospect stage of his career, he was an AHL All-star this year that, by most accounts, is NHL ready right now. It was believed that Kontiola would start on the Blackhawks second line this season, but a less than awe-inspiring camp derailed that plan.

The total package, though somewhat expensive on the Blackhawks side, would allow Hawks GM Dale Tallon to keep his squad under the cap while alleviating some of the log jam on defense.

Furthermore, this move would allow Tallon to keep his surprisingly effective two headed monster in net. Not only that, but the Hawks would also be able to hold onto the high priced yet shocking healthy and rejuvenated play-maker Martin Havlat when the trade deadline dust settles.

Seriously, no injuries yet this year Marty? None? It would seem that, for now, the team of surgeons have in fact succeeded in rebuilding the six million dollar man.

Also surprising is the fact that I haven't heard that line in the Chicago media. Anywhere! 

Of course, the only downside to this deal would be Jokinen's face-off woes. Currently sitting around 40%, Jokinen has never been particularly dynamic in the face-off dot and the Blackhawks are desperate for a center that can win some draws.

Regardless of that fact, Jokinen more than makes up for that deficiency in the rest of his game. He's a solid veteran presence, which the Hawks could certainly use more of going forward. 

Tallon will have plenty of decisions to make as the deadline approaches. Is Dustin Byfuglien worth his three million a year contract, or should he be moved? Does sharp shooting D-man Cam Barker have a place on a team so loaded in the defensive department?

Would anyone be willing to take Brent Sopel off of Tallon's hands? No? Okay, nevermind.

To me however, the answer is simple. If the Hawks can land a first line caliber center that makes second line center money while subtracting two question marks, then Tallon has to make that deal even if it means watching two or possibly even three gifted young players develop into quality talents on another team.