With the offseason coming to an end and all 30 teams gearing up for main training camp, many questions still engulf the Calgary Flames. What moves will be made to get under the salary cap? What prospects if any will crack the lineup and most of all, will Olli Jokinen work out the second time around?
On July 1 2010, GM Darryl Sutter announced the most shocking, and to some, laughable move on the free-agent frenzy. Olli Jokinen was to return to Calgary.
Many were happy to see him gone, even though the return trade has never really paid off, he was seen as a selfish and uninspired player who seemed to, himself want a trade. Though in an interview after the team announced his trade to the New York Rangers for Ales Kotalik and Chris Higgins (Brandon Prust also going to New York), Olli said that it was a "slap in the face," and seemed shocked by the move.
Much has changed, even though little time has gone by since the trade with New York. The Flames, no longer a playoff team, needed desperately to do something. With the recent signings of new acquisitions and renewing old players contracts, Calgary's options seemed nil.
A few believed that shipping out a large salaried defender and a high pick could bring us Kovalchuk, but that was not meant to be. It seemed that it would be another year for Jarome Iginla to carry the offensive load...then the free-agent frenzy began.
Half way into the day, the Flames announced that Alex Tanguay would be returning to Calgary at a bargain price, under $2 million a season. Now the only move was to bring in a center who could play with Iginla and Tanguay. But wait, the Olli experiment did not work the first time, why would it work this time?
Nonetheless, Sutter re-signed the big center at half the price he let him go for. Many could not believe it, and a few even called the move downright stupid. However, before we start the shouting, we should look at some of the facts.
Olli Jokinen always has been and probably always will be a shooter, a scoring center. Jarome Iginla is the very same, perhaps more talented, yes, and maybe more physical, but when either player gets the puck the instinct is to shoot. Jokinen had to adjust to not being the top scoring player on the team and was trying to become a play maker, something that was visibly awkward for him.
The signing of Alex Tanguay (also in his second stint with the Flames) could remove some of that pressure and free up two very talented shooters, to shoot. Tanguay, who is a natural playmaker and a very good one at that, proved he could set up Iginla in his previous go with the Flames; why couldn't he set up Jokinen as well?
With the skating ability of all three and two scorers and a playmaker, it could prove to be a very dangerous line. If one player is not working well, there is always Stajan or Borque to replace them for a few games until they can work it out.
Before we all go jumping ship, let's give him a chance to prove that he is the natural scorer that he used to be. Just think, it could be worse—we could be Leafs fans.