Olli Jokinen Free Agent Signing: A Flames Fan Perspective

Derrick LightfootContributor IJuly 5, 2010

DALLAS - JANUARY 27:  Center Olli Jokinen #21 of the Calgary Flames celebrates his goal with Jarome Iginla #12 against the Dallas Stars in the second period at American Airlines Center on January 27, 2010 in Dallas, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Bringing back Olli Jokinen is a huge gamble to say the least. The TSN panel covering free agent frenzy on July 1 was speechless when word broke Darryl Sutter was working on signing Jokinen. Calgary was speechless too. Tanguay back at $1.7 million wasn't a bad deal, only one year and it's cheap. He had decent chemistry with Iginla, but needed to shoot the puck more and could have added a bit of toughness.

But Jokinen was a colossal failure. I'm probably overkilling Jokinens stay right now, but he really was not that great. He did put up a decent amount of points, but for a player that was so good only a few years ago, much more was expected. The only good thing about having him back is that it's at a significant pay cut—$3 million a year. But why not save the cap space and bring in someone else? Someone who hasn't already failed as a Flame?

As a Flame's fan, Sutter better not be done. This current team is mediocre at best. I'd say a lower seed first round exit.

The only hope is that with a line of Tanguay, Iginla and Jokinen, is that Jokinen will start shooting the puck more. That's when Jokinen was playing his best hockey. Not when he was just the set up man like he was trying to be in his first tenure with the Flames.

With a guy with some soft hands and good passing in Tanguay, Jokinen could find his goal scoring touch again and that could be a legitimate top line—but a lot of things would have to go right for that to happen.

Before the Free Agent Frenzy began, I was thinking of who the perfect Centre for Iginla could be. As we've seen, guys usually think, "I'm playing with Iginla, I can only pass the puck." So I figured a good Centre for Iginla would be one who wouldn't be afraid to shoot. This thinking of mine was in the playoffs, so I figured RFA Shark Joe Pavelski could work (he was re-signed by the Sharks). I guess I kind of got my wish.

But again, I can tell you that Calgary is not happy, and they shouldn't be. "In Sutter we trust" is a famous line here, but right now Calgary's trust in Sutter is diminishing. I will hold hope though, but if nothing gets done and the Flames are starting the season with this line up, things most likely won't go well.

Marc Savard for Robyn Regher rumors have been brought up, but it appears that Savard doesn't want to waive his no trade clause to come to western Canada. His family is near the Toronto area so ideally he wants to go there or to Ottawa.

Last year the Flames had a tough time generating offense. So much so, Dion Phaneuf was dealt to upgrade the offense. But arguably the best player that the Flames got back was defenseman Ian White. Matt Stajan and Niklas Hagman were acquired to help out the offense, but they were not the answer.

Then Jokinen was shipped to the Rangers for Ales Kotalik and Chris Higgins. Once again, pretty good players, but not the answer.

This Jokinen signing can relate to that. It seems Sutter thinks that a bunch of second and third line players will create enough offense to make up for not having two really good first line players to complement Iginla. This gives the Flames some good offensive depth, but it's not necessarily a good thing when there's not much give between the first liners and third liners.

The Flames have Jokinen, Stajan, Langkow and Backlund down the middle. The most appealing out of these is Backlund, but I'm not sure he will be able to play on the top line next year. These are four second line centres. From a glass half full perspective, this could be seen as a great situation. Personally I (and I'm sure every Flames fan) would much rather have that elite centre than a few good centres.

Another glass half full view, could see the signings as great, as they add some offense to a team that struggled for nothing (except for valuable cap space).

Who knows, maybe Jokinen can step up and be that elite Centre—but he definitely wasn't that guy last time in Calgary, and I'm not sure a pay cut and Tanguay can make him that guy. I don't want to underestimate what a playmaker can do with Iginla and Jokinen though, Jokinen post-lockout scored a lot of goals with the Panthers. His production declined a bit in Phoenix.

In New York, he was supposed to be the set up man for Gaborik. He was pretty bad during his time as a Ranger. As I've said in this article, Sutter is banking on Jokinen being better when he is not supposed to be the main passer.

Hopefully this will be Olli Jokinen 2.0. A guy who will shoot the puck more, and will go back to the days where he scored 30 goals.

A passer in Tanguay, a shooter in Jokinen and a power forward in Iginla. A good combination, but who knows how Tanguay and Jokinen will perform (and even Iginla after an off year last season).

Sutter better hope Jokinen and Tanguay can make some magic, his tenure as the Flames GM most likely depends on it.


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