On the Hot Seat: Flames' Olli Jokinen on the Trading Block?

Steve McSween@dansallowsSenior Analyst INovember 17, 2009

MONTREAL- NOVEMBER 10:  Olli Jokinen #21 of the Calgary Flames skates during the warm up period prior to facing the Montreal Canadiens in the NHL game on November 10, 2009 at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  The Flames defeated the Canadiens 1-0.  (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)
Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images

There is no doubting his skill.

There is no doubting his size.

But Olli Jokinen has been an enigma in Calgary this season, and one has to wonder how much more the Sutter brothers can take before an inevitable trade.

The rumours have been swirling of late.

One in particular would send him back to the Panthers for prospects in order to free up cap space to re-sign Rene Bourque to a long-term deal.

Another would see him end up in Toronto for the much maligned Matt Stajan.

And yet another to the playoff-contending New York Islanders that would see Jeff Tambellini and Blake Comeau exchanged for the underachieving Finnish center.

Despite his lack of production, Jokinen still has some value on the market because of his size and his 30-goal potential.

This makes this all the harder for the Calgary Flames who need a big, first-line centerman as much as anybody.

Jokinen just doesn't seem to fit.

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At times watching Jokinen play has been like the series finale of Seinfeld; so much anticipation which ends in an ultimate letdown.

Two goals in 18 games just doesn't cut it when you're making $5.5 million.

The Flames are sitting near the top of the Western Conference standings at 12-4-2, but any long-term bump in their season will most likely mean the end for Olli Jokinen in Calgary unless he suddenly becomes the second coming of Joe Nieuwendyk and lights the lamp in a consecutive stretch.

Let's face it, the Sutter brothers are known for a lot of things, but patience ain't one of them.

The sudden emergence of Mikael Backlund in Abbotsford could also play a part in any trade speculation, as he has been very good in the Heat's last nine games, scoring six goals and adding a couple assists, and finally adapting to the pro game.

Yes, there is no need to push the panic button in Calgary because the team is winning.

That being said if the right offer is on the table, Darryl Sutter won't hesitate to make a change.

If Jokinen continues to struggle, he will indeed be dealt.

It is as inevitable as the latest Twighlight movie breaking box office records.

I personally hope he can turn things around, as the Flames with a hot Olli Jokinen are much better than without him.

But that, I'm sure can be said in Montreal about Scott Gomez, Carolina about Eric Staal, and Tampa Bay about Vinny Lecavalier; all of whom have had a hard time finding the twine this season.

The only difference is Calgary isn't near the bottom of the standings.

This may just drag Jokinen trade rumours on longer than a Pink Floyd song.

Good for wannabe sports writers like me, but bad for Cup contenders like the Calgary Flames.


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