Olli Jokinen: 5 NHL Teams That Should Pursue the Free Agent

Daniel Mano Herberholz@danielmanoherbCorrespondent IMay 2, 2012

Olli Jokinen: 5 NHL Teams That Should Pursue the Free Agent

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    Calgary Flames center Olli Jokinen is on the market as a free agent, and several teams would be smart to look into pursuing the veteran.

    Jokinen has been traded five times in his 13-year career, but he played the entirety of his most recent contract with the Flames.

    Even at his age, the 33-year-old is still producing. His 61 points last season show that.

    Though Jokinen's goal total has declined, he hasn't stopped supporting his teammates.

    Since he broke out in 2002-2003, Jokinen has averaged 33.6 assists a season. The 38 he tallied in 2011-12 eclipse that rate.

    Those assists could help these teams who have ice time and cap space possibly opening up this fall.  

Anaheim Ducks

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    One place Olli Jokinen could help fill a hole is with the Anaheim Ducks

    The Ducks are looking to upgrade the second line by re-signing center Saku Koivu and moving him to the third shift.

    Jokinen is an ideal choice at that spot.

    Unlike Koivu, Jokinen has maintained his play with age. While Koivu's point totals have dropped each year he's been in Anaheim, the Finlander surpassed the 60-point mark last season for the first time since 2007-2008.

    That production is essential as Anaheim rebuilds its core. Five players in the team's top three lines will be free agents this summer.

    Plus, Jokinen has experience in Southern California, as he began his NHL career with the Los Angeles Kings.

Phoenix Coyotes

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    Once a home of Olli Jokinen, the Phoenix Coyotes could use his stable skating.

    Since top-paid center Daymond Langkow comes off the books this summer, Phoenix will have some money to spend on the position.

    Three years ago, Coyotes GM Don Maloney acquired Jokinen and then traded him away before the deadline. But at the time, Maloney made the deal in order to add some youth

    Now Phoenix has turned things around, playing in its third straight playoffs.

    Jokinen can help support the Phoenix forwards, who have been the team's scoring forces this year

Colorado Avalanche

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    Another Western Conference team that should pursue Olli Jokinen is the Colorado Avalanche.

    The Avalanche face an uncertain future, as 14 of the team's top 22 players aren't sure to return in 2012-2013.

    Among the team's restricted free agents are centers Matt Duchene and Jay McClement.

    Duchene underachieved in his third season with Colorado. Though he earned $3.2 million in 2011-12, he tallied just 28 points after 122 combined in his first two years.

    McClement also didn't live up to his billing after being acquired as part of the deal that brought in Erik Johnson. The 17 points he notched this season weren't enough for his $1.45 million salary.

    Though Colorado has youngster Ryan O'Reilly and longtime Avalanche Paul Stastny, Jokinen could add a stable scorer to the team's top six. 

Buffalo Sabres

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    After missing the playoffs this season, the Buffalo Sabres should look into signing Olli Jokinen.

    The Sabres' scoring dropped more than the league average, in part because the team lacked valuable centers.

    While first-liner Derek Roy played well (44 points), no other center stepped up for Buffalo. The next two most productive centers, Tyler Ennis and Brad Boyes, are better as wingers.

    Though the team acquired young center Cody Hodgson, he didn't score much as a Sabre and could use some time to develop.

    Time to kick the tires on a veteran center like Jokinen.

Florida Panthers

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    Olli Jokinen played for the Florida Panthers through six years of missing the playoffs.

    Now that the franchise has turned around, it should consider bringing back its former captain.

    Though he's only in his second year as general manager, Dale Tallon is nominated for the GM of the Year award.

    That's because of the changes he's made in Florida, and he'll get to make some more this summer.

    Wojtek Wolski and Marco Sturm are among the players Tallon didn't bring to Florida and could decline to bring back. Their combined salary of $6.05 million means the GM will have space to change things up.

    Jokinen would be a throwback choice. The center has spent the most time of his career with the Panthers—including during his two best seasons.  


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