Friday, June 20, 2008

A Calmer Look at Jokinen Trade

It's finally happened, and it appears that Florida Panthers captain Olli Jokinen is headed west, to play for the Great One himself and the Phoenix Coyotes. In return, the Panthers received defensemen Keith Ballard and Nick Boynton, as well as the Coyotes 2nd round pick, 49th overall.

Jokinen holds many franchise records, including most goals (188), assists (231), points (419), and is 2nd in games played (567) to Robert Svehla (573). Olli has also captained for the past four seasons. During those 4 seasons, the Panthers finished 11th, 12th, 11th, and 12th in the Eastern Conference, and never higher than 3rd in the division. Jokinen also holds the dubious distinction of playing in 723 regular season games and 0 playoff games. That's 2nd all time in games played with out a postseason appearance (to Panthers assistant coach Guy Charron, none-the-less).

While Olli led the Cats on the score sheet, he's failed to lead them anywhere past that. It's not as though the Panthers, who have missed the playoffs every year since 2000, are scratching and fighting their way to the end of the season, pushing through for every point and coming up just short. They haven't even finished higher than 11th in the conference since that last playoff year.

So Olli's out, let's look at the 2 new guys coming. There were rumors flying everywhere about who the Panthers would receive for their captain. In the end, it was Wayne Gretzky and his Phoenix Coyotes who made the trade. They send defensemen Nick Boynton and Keith Ballard to the Cats, plus a 2nd round pick in tonight's draft (49th overall). Both Boynton and Ballard are former first round draft picks, and should be an immediate improvement to the Panthers blueline. Boynton, 29, will be entering his 6th season in the NHL. In his 437 career NHL games, he has 180 points and is +8. Ballard, 25, is going into his 4th year in the NHL. He most recently represented Team USA in the IIHF World Championships.

These 2, plus the draft choice TBA, are clearly not meant to fill the scoring void that will be left by Olli. Instead, this looks like a move to change the unfortunate trend of giving up 40+ shots a game that has crept into the Panthers style of play over the last few seasons. It appears as though GM Jacques Martin and new coach Pete DeBoer are confident in handing the scoring over to the teams' young core of players, such as 20+ goal scorers, 23 year olds David Booth and Nathan Horton, as well as a good mesh of veteran talent that missed much of last year with injuries. Brett McLean, Richard Zednik, and Rostislav Olesz all missed at least 15 games last season on the DL.

One last thing to consider is the money this should free up for the Panthers. With the new, post-lockout NHL, there is a salary cap. There are unrestricted free agents out there, many of whom have lit the lamp frequently. Is there a big name to be signed come August? We'll just have to wait and see. The Panthers now have 5 picks in this year's draft, it will be interesting to see who they will be, and the impact they may have on this team in the coming season(s). Stay tuned for draft pick prognostication.


ASponge said...

Very well-written piece, and an eloquent foil to FloridaPanthers4Ever's impulsive thoughts. We can only hope you're right and this trade works out in the end.

FloridaPanthers4ever said...

This really was a Great read. You definitly are 100% correct. I def lost it hours ago when the deal went down. I just saw my favorite panther traded for something I did not think this team needed.

JM usually does the right things. He really is committed to the defensive system and I'm gooing to start trusting him on that.

The key to all of this is if Bouwmeester signs long term or do they trade him. Personally I'm scared to think whats going to happen to my new favorite panther.

Both players they got in return are UFA next season. We should be scared about that too.

With that said, they better get everyone signed and go out and get a goal scorer for the top line in FA.

Who do you guys tihnk the captain should be now? I saw give it to bouwmeester along with a respectable contract!

Stanley C. said...

thanks for the "great read" compliment. those mean a lot to me.

And glad to see you've calmed down, lol. It's always hard seeing the leader of your team leave, especially someone like Olli. (this is why I prefer college sports over pro, no trades, no contracts, no money, just kids playing.) Especially when you get 2 guys back you know nothing about. They played on a mediocre Phoenix team we here in south FLA hear zero-to-nil about.

Anyways, Bryan Allen has to be the front runner for captain next season. He was an assistant last year and is one of few veteran leaders on the team. Can't wait to see what happens tomorrow with 5 picks coming (at this time anyways, lol)