Source tells me it's official: Olli Jokinen's days with the Flames are over and he will head to free agency July 1.— Eric Francis (@EricFrancis) June 28, 2012
The 33-year-old Jokinen notched 150 points for the Flames over the last three seasons. Unfortunately for Jokinen and the Flames, the team missed the playoffs over that same period by a combined 13 points.
Last season, the Finland-born center had his best campaign with the team, playing in every game, scoring 23 goals and putting up 38 assists. He led all Flames centers in points and was only six tallies behind Jerome Iginla for the team lead.
Jokinen will certainly be missed by the organization and the fans, but the team won't suffer in his absence.
Jokinen's prospective exit leaves a hole in the Calgary attack, but that hole will be filled in due time. The future center of the organization, Mark Jankowski, was selected at No. 21 overall in the 2012 NHL draft.
The 17-year-old's pedigree is one of the most impressive things about him. His grandfather is Lou Jankowski, who played for Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks in the 1950s. Leonard "Red" Kelly, who won eight Stanley Cups with the Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs, is his great uncle.
That doesn't speak to his skills on the ice, but it's easy to see he has hockey, as well as success, in his blood.
The young Canadian was the most illustrious goalscorer in the 2012 draft. He scored 84 goals over two seasons with Stanstead College. Not only can he find the back of the net, he has a playmaking mindset for his teammates, as evidenced in his 83 assists during that same time span.
Flames' General Manager Jay Feaster believes in Jankowski more than anybody. Per CBC Hamilton, Feaster predicted that "Jankowski will be viewed as the best player in the 2012 draft. We felt we could take the gamble."
Those are some big shoes to fill for a 17-year-old, but Jankowski will be able to get the job done. The only gripe about him is that he's all too skinny at 6'2", 170 pounds, but his frame is still growing.
What is your prediction for Mark Jankowski?
He can easily dangle around defenders and act as a facilitator for his teammates. He's light years ahead of the typical learning curve for a player his age, and will be able to carve up defenses in a matter of years.
The Flames may have a few issues without Jokinen for a couple of years, but it won't be any kind of elongated suffering. There is hope for the future and comfort in Jankowski, who will lead the Flames for years to come when he is ready for the NHL.