Though it’s still early, Edmonton Oilers forward Jussi Jokinen is showing that he belongs on the top six.
In Edmonton’s impressive 4-1 preseason win over the Winnipeg Jets Wednesday, the 34-year-old racked up a goal and three points. He also finished the night with five shots on goal and three blocks.
Playing on a line with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Kailer Yamamoto, he is not only showing tremendous chemistry but great speed and offensive skill. The Finnish winger takes good care of the puck, makes strong passes and has a solid release.
In 69 games last season, he had just 11 goals and 28 points and was a minus-15, and his totals saw a huge decline from a 60-point campaign in 2015-16. With the Oilers, he hopes not only to bounce back but to ignite a spark through the lineup.
However, there are some questions as to where he will fit in. He is primarily a left winger, but could likely play on either side of the puck. Edmonton seems to have solid depth on the left wing, with Patrick Maroon and Milan Lucic slotting in on the top-six. However, Jokinen could be in the running to compete for a spot, though right now, he seems like he could potentially join a third line featuring Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
Despite the fact that Nugent-Hopkins looks solid this preseason, the Oilers seem to be tailoring Leon Draisaitl to carry his own trio as the second-line centre, which pushes Nugent-Hopkins down the depth chart. With that being said, the former first-overall pick could see a move to a third line, which would still bring a lot of chemistry and firepower featuring players like Jokinen.
Still, no spot is guaranteed, and seeing Jokinen show a lot of chemistry alongside a top-six centre like Nugent-Hopkins, who the Oilers need more from this season, could inspire head coach Todd McLellan to give these players more ice time.