Coming into this season, there weren’t a ton of Caniacs who expected to see #36 play at the RBC Center in Hurricanes colors again. Jussi Jokinen, who is with his third NHL team, has played some of the best hockey of his career with Carolina. With that being said, however, after last season, there were some, even General Manager Jim Rutherford, who thought that Jokinen would test out the waters of free agency and eventually sign with another team. It wasn’t even July 1st, the first day of free agency, when the Hurricanes announced that they had signed Jokinen to a 3-year contract, paying him $3 million per year. Granted, this was a well-deserved pay raise for the Juice, but the general belief was he could get more money elsewhere. Jokinen cited his reason for staying being the area, organization and the optimism of the future of the team. He also cited his success with the team.
The 5’11”, 190-pound, Kalajoki, Finland native is heading into his fourth season with the Hurricanes after spending time with the Dallas Stars (the team who drafted him 192nd overall in the 2001 draft) and Tampa Bay Lightning. Jokinen was traded to the Hurricanes after being placed on waivers by Tampa Bay in February of 2009. He was traded for Wade Brookbank, Josef Melichar and a 2009 fourth-round draft pick. He played 25 games for the Canes during the regular season that year, notching 11 points (1G, 10A), but broke out of his shell during the 2009 playoffs, scoring the same 11 points (7G, 4A) in 18 games, including some of the most memorable goals in Carolina Hurricanes’ playoff history. I have included three of my favorites, including what’s known as “0.2 seconds,” “The Jussi Shuffle,” and “The Shock at the Rock.”
This season, Jokinen is expected to start on the top scoring line with captain Eric Staal and newcomer Alexei Ponikarovsky.Hopefully, he can get back to the scoring pace that he reached during the 2009-2010 season, where he played 81 games and registered 65 points, including 30 goals and 35 assists. Last season, Jokinen was set back by injuries and only played 70 games. Assuming he can stay healthy this season, I would expect him to be around the 60-65 point mark yet again, especially on a line with known goal scorers. The Hurricanes also expect him to help them in the exhibition shootout, where he has scored 25 goals in 46 shootout attempts (54.3%) since November, 2009.