Henrik Lundqvist, Jussi Jokinen

Hurricanes hand Jussi Jokinen a three-year, $9M extension

Remember when people thought Jussi Jokinen served no purpose beyond being a wildly efficient shootout scorer?

The Finnish winger shed that label over the years as he moved from the (once?) rigid structure of the Dallas Stars system to a more wide-open style with the Carolina Hurricanes. He found his way to Carolina after a brief run with the Tampa Bay Lightning, truly cementing his place with the Canes thanks to a hot 2008-09 playoff run (11 points in 18 games).

Jokinen has been a solid offensive contributor in his two full seasons with Carolina, scoring a career-high 65 points in 2009-10 and following it up with a solid 52 points in 10-11. The Hurricanes rewarded his deft work by signing him to a three-year, $9 million contract extension today.

This constitutes another bit of housekeeping for the Hurricanes. They re-signed hard working forward Chad LaRose to a two-year deal on Wednesday and locked up their top defenseman Joni Pitkanen on Tuesday. Their biggest free agent question revolves around the status of power forward Erik Cole, who might be primed for free agency once noon comes around on Friday.

Hurricanes GM Jeremy Rutheford can breathe a bit easier now that he has most – but not all – of his free agent forwards under wraps. The team has 16 players under contract at about $41 million, giving them about $23.2 million in cap space to fill 4-7 roster spots.

GM says Blue Jackets are ‘off the rails’ right now

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On Monday, PHT discussed the Columbus Blue Jackets’ troubling start, even if it felt like it may be too early to raise concerns.

Apparently Blue Jackets management is a little shaken by the second 0-3-0 start in franchise history, however.

Columbus GM Jarmo Kekalainen shared his shock and dismay with the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline on Tuesday.

“I’m surprised how, in just five days, we’ve gone from a very confident group to something that’s the opposite of that,” Kekalainen told The Dispatch on Tuesday. “Our confidence, our game … it’s off the rails right now.

Maybe losing to the Buffalo Sabres stings a little bit extra?

Kekalainen said “there’s no excuse for how we played in Buffalo,” pointing out that every team in the NHL is a “good team.”

Indeed, just about every squad boasts some dangerous weapons if they catch an opponent sleeping.

Portzline goes deeper on Columbus’ recent history of stumbling out of the gate, but consider the foreboding stretch coming up.

Next four games: Three out of four at home
Eight games following that: Seven out of eight on the road.

As you can see, winter is coming for Columbus, so they best get things together. All things considered, this is the right time for a wake-up call.

For bonus chuckles, here’s a photo of Kekalainen on a railing.

via AP

Personal reasons: No Ovechkin for Caps tonight

Alex Ovechkin
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Alex Ovechkin won’t play for the Washington Capitals on Tuesday because of personal reasons, the team confirmed.

He entered the building considerably later than usual, but his presence at least opened the door for the possibility of No. 8 suiting up against the San Jose Sharks.

Instead, the Capitals will face the hot-starting Sharks without Ovechkin (personal reasons) and Nicklas Backstrom (injury).

That’s a tall order, yet it’s also an opportunity for Barry Trotz to prove his system is a difference-maker … and that the Capitals have the young players to take up the mantle when the big stars are out

This is how Washington’s forward lines may look tonight:

No, the Capitals have not shared details regarding what his “personal reasons” might be, by the way.