Though the Edmonton Oilers made a handful of signings for AHL free agents earlier this summer, they did take a chance on a veteran.
Earlier in the offseason, the Oilers signed winger Jussi Jokinen to a one-year deal, hoping that he will make a difference and add scoring and experience this season. Given Edmonton’s lack of right wing depth, the 34-year-old will likely start the year playing on the right wing.
While his scoring has been on the decline as he’s gotten older, can he prove that he still has a lot of potential and crack the top six this season?
In 69 games this past season, Jokinen had just 11 goals and 28 points and was a minus-19. However, in the year prior to the 2016-17 campaign, he had 18 goals and 60 points and was one of the Panthers’ most important assets on the forward lines.
Throughout his entire career, Jokinen has nine 40-plus point campaigns. Though more of a playmaker and a passer, he does possess scoring ability. While his shot isn’t the strongest, he has skill and takes good care of the puck, and he is also almost always accurate. In addition, he is a versatile forward whose ability can not go unnoticed.
Though he is skilled, he may be a better fit on the bottom-six to start the year. First off, even though his numbers are inconsistent and decreasing as time goes on, he isn’t much of a goal-scorer. He is able to make good plays and has great control over the puck, but doesn’t make himself big or dominant in the offensive zone.
In addition, the 5-foot-11, 198-pound forward is on the smaller side, and may not make as much of an impact if he were in the Oilers top-six. Not only that, but he is getting slower, and the Oilers’ top lines are young and speedy, so he will have to work to keep up.
Jokinen will also have to outplay Jesse Puljujarvi, who is gunning for a spot on the top six. While both Finns have offensive prowess, Puljujarvi is faster and is coming off a strong transition year in the AHL. Therefore, he is more likely to earn a second-line spot, and unless Jokinen proves his worth as a top-line winger, he is more likely to start off on the third line.
Overall, while Jokinen certainly has a lot of skill and plenty to offer this season, it may be more beneficial to have him make an impact on the bottom-six unless of course, he shows insane potential and the ability to keep up with the first and second lines.