Check PHT each weekday for the first four weeks of June for a new pending unrestricted free agent of the day. Today’s UFA of the Day is…
At 35 years old, Jokinen isn’t the dynamic player he used to be. But after scoring 18 goals with 25 assists for the Jets in 2013-14, the Finnish center should still attract interest should he not re-sign with Winnipeg.
Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff said Thursday that there have been “various levels of conversations” with the team’s free agents, and that “we’ll probably have some more conversations” before July 1. But with centers Bryan Little and Mark Scheifele signed and expected to play top-six roles next season, bringing Jokinen back doesn’t seem to be at the top of the club’s priority list.
Unless Jokinen is happy to skate on Winnipeg’s third line for a modest salary, he’ll probably see if he can do better on the open market. His expiring contract paid $9 million over two years. While he may not get that again, the lack of quality UFA centers has been well-documented. Jokinen may end up on a team that tries and fails to land Ryan Kesler or Jason Spezza.
Still best known for the big offensive seasons he put up in Florida when he was younger, Jokinen’s two-way game is somewhat underrated. Among Jets regulars in 2013-14, no player started more of his shifts in the defensive zone. Helping him become a “better overall player” is something with which he credited his former coach in Calgary, Brent Sutter.
“He (taught) me how to play good in both ends,” Jokinen said in 2012, “and how to play other teams’ top lines and how to be more helpful to the team.”