Minutes into the NHL's 2008 Entry Draft the Florida Panthers traded their star center and captain Olli Jokinen to the Phoenix Coyotes.
In return the Panthers received defensemen Nick Boynton and Keith Ballard, as well as the 49th overall draft pick.
Jokinen is Florida's all-time scoring leader, and has led the team in goals and points for the past five seasons. He has also been the team's captain since 2003.
For these reasons, I can see why many hockey fans would be angry with GM Jacques Martin for making this trade.
However, I think this was a good trade.
The only complaint that I have is that Martin should have pushed for a higher draft pick from the Coyotes. Phoenix had the 8th, 28th, 35th, and 49th overall selections in this years draft in the first two rounds. The Panthers got the last one. Martin should have pushed for the 28th pick.
Nevertheless, I still believe this trade was a good thing for the Panthers.
During the middle of the 2007-2008 season I began to think that perhaps it would be best if Jokinen was traded. He did provide a good amount of offense, but he didn't do much else.
Jokinen was often lackadaisical and slow to get back on defense. He rarely hustled to make a play on defense and seemed to only care about scoring.
However, on the occasion that the opposing team pulled its goalie, Jokinen was on his toes, eager to pad his stats with an empty net goal. This was a poor example for the youngsters that Jokinen was supposed to be leading.
Current GM and then head coach Jacques Martin began to grow tired of Jokinen. Towards the end of the season, Martin dropped Olli to the second line, using the young and exciting trio of Nathan Horton, Stephen Weiss, and David Booth as his top line. Tension grew between Martin and the team's star.
So, Jokinen was shipped to the Coyotes for two guys who will be a big help to the Panthers and who will hustle on every shift.
The Panthers have struggled defensively for the past few years, and have been among the worst in the league in shots against. The two solid defensemen, Boynton and Ballard should help with this.
The upgraded defense will be able to move the puck out of the defensive zone more quickly and efficiently than the last several seasons. This will create more scoring opportunities for the Panthers' young forwards such as Weiss, Horton, Booth, Rostislav Olesz, and Gregory Campbell.
According to Martin, prospect Shawn Matthias will get an opportunity to play more this year. Last season Matthias scored two goals in four games with the Panthers.
With Jokinen gone, and the defense taken care of, hopefully the Panthers will pursue a high quality forward in free agency.
Either Marian Hossa, Daymond Langkow, or Sean Avery would make an excellent addition to this Florida hockey team.