In late March 2013, no one wanted Jussi Jokinen’s three-year, $9 million contract.
He was having an off-year with 11 points and a minus-eight rating in 33 contests, so when Carolina put him on waivers, he cleared. The Pittsburgh Penguins agreed to take him, but only for a conditional seventh-round pick and even then, the Hurricanes had to retain $900,000 of his annual cap hit.
Pittsburgh saw immediate returns on their investment as Jokinen stepped up for the battered Penguins for what was left of the 2013 campaign, but when the Penguins got healthy for the playoffs, Jokinen’s role was marginalized.
This season has been a completely different story. He scored 21 goals and 57 points in 81 games and has been an even bigger contributor in the playoffs. Jokinen scored his third game-winning goal of the 2014 postseason last night.
Granted, it was off of Rangers defenseman Marc Staal’s skate, but he showed a lot of determination on the play. More importantly, his accomplishments go far beyond his efforts last night as he now leads the team in playoff goals with six in 10 games.
“I think if you’re picking a playoff pool and you’re looking for an overtime guy or a guy that’s going to score a big goal, he’s a guy who has consistently done that,” Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said, per the team’s website.
Jokinen, 31, is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. The Penguins are likely to make a significant effort to re-sign him after the campaign he’s had, but if he does end up hitting the open market, it seems safe to assume that the same teams that balked at his cap hit a year ago would love to sign him at that price now.
The Ryan Nugent-Hopkins trade speculation may have died down since it peaked at the draft in late June, but it’s not entirely dead.
The 23-year-old former first overall draft pick was asked to address the ongoing rumors Monday at an Oilers charity golf tournament.
“I try not to pay attention too much,” Nugent-Hopkins said, per the Edmonton Journal. “If it happens, it happens. I know it’s definitely a different group than the one we finished with last season.”
Indeed it is. Most notably, Taylor Hall is in New Jersey now, traded for defenseman Adam Larsson. The Oilers also signed Milan Lucic and drafted Jesse Puljujarvi.
What’s still lacking is an offensive defenseman who can run the power play, which is why the names Tyson Barrie (Avalanche) and Matt Dumba (Wild) have been floated as potential targets.
The Wild in particular could use a good, young center like Nugent-Hopkins, and the expansion draft is looming for a Minnesota club that already has defensemen Ryan Suter, Jared Spurgeon, Jonas Brodin, and Marco Scandella locked up in long-term contracts.
Barrie, meanwhile, has an arbitration hearing scheduled for Friday.
Blues d-man Kevin Shattenkirk is another name that’s come up; however, he can become an unrestricted free agent after next season, and whether he’d re-sign in Edmonton is in doubt.
Chalk up another arbitration hearing that won’t be required. This time it’s Brandon Manning‘s. The 26-year-old defenseman has agreed on a two-year, $1.95 million deal with the Philadelphia Flyers, according to CSN Philly.
Manning’s hearing was scheduled for next Tuesday. He was the last restricted free agent on the Flyers, after Brayden Schenn re-signed Monday.
Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman was the first to report the Manning signing.
Manning played 56 games for the Flyers in 2015-16, his first full season in the NHL. He had one goal and six assists while logging an average ice time of 16:32.
The Chicago Blackhawks are reportedly parting ways with defenseman David Rundblad. The two sides have agreed to a contract termination, according to Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times.
Rundblad, 25, was set to earn $1.1 million this season, per General Fanager. His cap hit was $1.05 million, meaning the ‘Hawks will gain $100,000 in cap space by not having to bury his contract in the AHL next season.
Rundblad was unlikely to make the Blackhawks in 2016-17 — not after the additions of Brian Campbell and Michal Kempny, and also the re-signing of Michal Rozsival.
It remains to be seen where Rundblad will end up. One possibility is back in Switzerland, where he spent part of last season before dressing three times for the ‘Hawks in the playoffs.
Darryl Sydor, after being let go by the Minnesota Wild, has joined the Chicago Wolves as an assistant coach.
The St. Louis Blues, the parent club of the AHL Wolves, made the announcement Monday. It was also announced that former NHLer Daniel Tkaczuk would join Sydor as an assistant on new head coach Craig Berube’s staff.
Sydor, who won two Stanley Cups as a defenseman, spent five years as an assistant on Mike Yeo’s staff in Minnesota. His time with the Wild was marred by an arrest in 2015 for drunk driving. He was sentenced to 60 days in jail and sought treatment.
“I know now that alcoholism is a disease and I’m powerless over alcohol,” he told Kamloops This Week in January. “I can never have a drink again and I’m fine with that.”