Report: Olli Jokinen ‘less than thrilled’ to be a Maple Leaf, likely to be flipped

The Nashville Predators gambled on three undervalued centremen in free agency this summer: Derek Roy, Olli Jokinen and Mike Ribeiro. They struck gold with Ribeiro, and have since short sold on their other less, successful, short-term bets. David Poile, doing work.

On Sunday, the Predators sent Olli Jokinen’s expiring contract to the Toronto Maple Leafs as part of the Mike Santorelli, Cody Franson deal. Jokinen, 36, is only part of the trade to make the math work and he was reportedly not at all pleased to be leaving a cup contender south of the Mason-Dixon line to join a dysfunctional, rebuilding team in the heart of the polar vortex:

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Perhaps the veteran pivot shouldn’t worry to much, because it would appear that the Maple Leafs will look to flip him, according to TSN’s Bob McKenzie.

Read on past the jump for more!

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Maple Leafs general manager Dave Nonis all but admitted that the club’s plan is to flip Jokinen before the deadline during his conference call with media on Sunday.

“Olli hasn’t played a lot,” Nonis began, via David Alter’s recording of the Maple Leafs executive’s telephonic availability. “He’s been in and out of the lineup there, so our plans with Olli are to get him playing, to get his game to the highest possible level, and I wouldn’t be surprised if there are playoff teams that will be calling us (about him).

“He’s a quality veteran who would provide a team that has a chance to win with some depth, so our immediate goal is to… get him playing.”

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So should teams with a chance of making a playoff run be interested in a player of Jokinen’s ilk?

It’s clear that Jokinen’s game has deteriorated significantly as he’s aged, which is to be expected. A bona fide top-line centre for much of his career, Jokinen has been less than effective over the past three years or so. This season with the Predators Jokinen has logged third-line minutes, mostly on the wing, while scoring at a sub-replacement level rate at 5-on-5. 

Even worse: all four of the forwards with whom he’s spent at least 100 even-strength minutes have fared better by shot attempt differential without him, than they’ve done with him. He’s also taken penalties at a very high rate this season, which is another data point that suggests his two-way game has eroded significantly.

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On the offensive side of the puck, at least, Jokinen’s complete lack of production is mostly related to awful puck luck. The veteran forward is converting on a paltry 3.6 percent of his shots this season, an unsustainably low rate. The on-ice bounces have been cruel to Jokinen as well, as the Predators have scored on fewer than five percent of their shots when he’s on the ice at 5-on-5. 

The veteran forward’s shot rate has remained somewhat healthy, even as his two-way game has atrophied. It didn’t show up in Nashville, but if the right team squeezes Jokinen’s withered rind, they may find it still contains some bottom-of-the-roster level offensive juice. 

As a relatively big bodied forward who can kill penalties, Jokinen should have some value for a playoff bound team that’s looking to shore up their forward depth (and perhaps has missed out on a variety of more desirable pieces during the trade deadline frenzy). It won’t be much, but recouping a late-round pick (or maybe even a mid-round pick if the Maple Leafs retain 50 percent of Jokinen’s $2.5 million salary) shouldn’t be out of the question. 

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      • Benjamin

        2nd last paragraph of the article haha.

        I’d be surprised if anyone is interested in Jokinen but maybe he gets a few weeks of plush minutes, a bit of puck luck, and nets a late round pick.

        I do like this idea of lumping rentals together for higher picks/better prospects. Quality over quantity and all that jazz. Maybe a Winnik and Booth package nets something?

        • Jeremy Ian

          right — thanks. I thought it came from a — umm — more lyrical piece.

          Yeah, I think bundling and rolling pieces allows teams to manage their cap space. Sure Booth is in this mix too. Like Jokinen, though, I think it’s more like something to ornament a Winnik deal.

          It wasn’t supposed to turn out this way, but those UFA’s are helpful now in the tear down. Cheap way to earn some draft picks/prospects you gave away in earlier trades (Bolland…).

  • Wes

    Put Jokinen on the first power play, give him 20 minutes a night, hopefully with Phil. Maybe he’ll score and some team will think he was just being misused in Nashville. You never know!

  • Benjamin

    don’t retain a single cent. even getting a 6-7th round pick is amazing. better than retaining any salary for a higher level pick. we’re already strapped as it is if we’re going to resign some players!

    • CMpuck

      Maybe you should read the article again. Jokinen is a UFA this offseason……………………………The Leafs retaining some of his salary in a trade for the rest of the season would have zero effect on their offseason

      • Benjamin

        maybe you should be the one to read the article. the article did not state that being a ufa means that the leafs wouldn’t be affected by retaining salary in the offseason if traded. the article only stated he’s a ufa and retaining salary could get us a higher mid-round pick. it said nothing about it not affecting their offseason/cap if they chose to do so.

  • acg5151

    I would be pissed off too if I got traded to Toronto. I think any of us would.

    That’s like if you came into work one day and your boss told you “Hey, our branch in Chad, out in Africa needs good people, so we are transferring you”

  • CMpuck

    The dude is old, having a terrible season (albeit an off-position) and has a career playoff appearance of 6 total games played. Kadri and Gardiner have more playoff games under their belt. Teams will find a veteran with playoff experience elsewhere. This guy is going nowhere until July 1.