One of Jim Rutherford's better trades came in early 2009 when he acquired Jussi Jokinen from the Tampa Bay Lightning for Josef Melichar, Wade Brookbank and a 2010 fourth round draft pick. Not much thought was put into this at first because Jokinen was a low round draft pick and in the middle of his worst season in the NHL. He had recorded at least 15 goals in the three previous years but the Lightning decided to sell low and the Canes took full advantage of it. The Canes have been getting the better side of Jokinen these last two seasons as he scored 30 goals in 2009-10 and 19 in 2010-11. Last year was seen as a slight disappointment to those who were expecting a repeat performance of 2009-10 from him but his production from last year is about what you should expect from Jokinen now that he's in his late 20's.
Jokinen's had a pretty interesting career if we're going by boxcar numbers. That 30-goal season was certainly an aberration for him because there are not many players who can shoot consistently at 18.8%. However, the year before that where he only scored 7 was also abnormal and it's the main reason he's in Carolina right now. What kind of player is Jokinen? Is he someone we can expect at least 20 goals out of or is 15-19 his ceiling now? Now that his spot on the second line and the powerplay appears to be set in stone, he cold have his shot at 20 goals but there's a very good chance he'll finish under that marker.
The reason why I am skeptical of Jokinen scoring 20 goals next season is because how much he has ridden the percentages over his career. In the last four years alone, he's either been incredibly fortunate or terribly unlucky.
2007-08 was the only year where he had a performance that was close to league-average and he scored 17 goals and 43 points that season. Not too bad. Then you have the year after it which I now refer to as the "777" season because his shooting percentage, 5v5 on-ice shooting percentage and goal total was the same that year. Seven. His fortune turned around in 2009-10 with a ridiculous 18.8% shooting percentage and an on-ice shooting percentage of 10.86%. Kind of easy to figure out that luck had a factor into his 30 goals that year. Last season he cooled down a little but still shot the puck at a pretty high rate and his on-ice shooting percentage was around 10%, which definitely benefited his point total. Projecting how his season will be very difficult as his career shooting percentage is boosted from that 2009-10 season and his point total could plummet if his on-ice shooting percentage crashes back down to Earth. This is where comparable players are a nice tool.
Jokinen was drafted at the age of 18 but didn't debut in the NHL until he was 22, so we're looking for forwards who also made their NHL debut at 22 years of age or similar to that. I was originally only going to do wingers but Jokinen has played center before in his career so I included those, as well. Here are the 10 closest comparable players:
|82 Games Avg.||82||21||29||50|
Jokinen's comparables draw out some interesting projections. They either see him trading goals for assists or vice-versa but still have him putting up at least 30-50 points. Jokinen's recorded points on 76.1% of the goals scored by his team at even strength over his career so his point total will depend on how good the Canes offense is and how much of a role he has in it. Carolina's offense doesn't look that promising but luckily for Jokinen, he plays on a line with Ruutu and Skinner and there's a good chance those three are going to accumulate a significant amount of points this season. The projections seem to think that Jokinen will have a lot more assists than goals, though which is interesting but not terribly far-fetched when you consider some of his teammates. It also says he will reach the 20 goal mark........if he plays in all 82 games.
I see Jokinen's shooting percentage taking a very slight decline and being more in line with his career average of about 13.7%. He is going to play on one of Carolina's main offensive lines and with Carolina's need for goal scorers, I see him shooting the puck more and creating more chances. He has also been a big threat on the powerplay throughout his career so I see him doing as significant amount of his damage there. Thus, I am projection a 20-goal season for Jokinen but I don't think he's getting anything more than that.