UFA Profiles: Olli Jokinen

Image From Colin Stuart


It’s hard to remember a player with a stranger tenure in Calgary than Olli Jokinen. As a guy who was traded for (and at a hefty cost), rumored to be traded away, told to play, actually traded away, and signed back in the offseason, Jokinen has been through it all.

He’s been the butt of multiple jokes (many made by myself – most involving bananas, barrels, kidnapped princesses, and McDonalds) and the subject to much criticism, and yet Jokinen has been a Calgary mainstay since he was acquired in 2008-09 (ignoring the trip to New York). The issue the Flames faces this year is that the former Panther/Coyote/Flame/Ranger is coming off of a season where he was paid slightly below the value he provided, meaning he’s in line for a raise – as well as an expected decline in performance.

The Turnaround

Jokinen was largely praised for his turn-around in performance from his initial contract this season. And while there certainly was a turn around it’s hardly the career resurrection that many make it out to be. A good bit of the difference was in perception since his contract was much smaller and he produced higher than it’s value rather than the opposite that had been the standard for him previously.

But only part of it was contract optics. In fact, a lot of it was Jokinen truly "buying in" to Sutters designs for him. Spending most of his time with Iginla and Glencross (and other than that, Glencross and Moss), Jokinen found himself drawing up against the opponents top lines more often than most…and to surprisingly good results. With the highest quality of competition on the team, Jokinen appeared to be a strong shutdown player at first blush.

Underlying Numbers

Unfortunately, a deeper look shows that he merely had mixed results. With zone start ratio of 47.9%, Jokinen wasn’t given the high ground but he certainly wasn’t exactly buried either. His basic possession rate of -10.25/60 minutes of ice time was the second worst amongst regular forwards on the team (Jarome was last) and his relative corsi rate of -6.3 was third worst. Even if we use Eric T’s "balanced corsi" (which corrects for zone starts) Jokinen is still underwater at -5.94/60.

All this means Olli spent a lot of time in the defensive end at even strength. As a result, his 5on5 scoring chance ratio this year was also abysmal (44.4%). So while Jokinen did the heavy lifting, it’s not like he genuinely succeeded at it. At best he was mediocre as an overall two-way force and scoring rates back that up.

Jokinen’s GF On/60 (Goals For While On the Ice) comes in at 2.90, best on the team. A little surprising, sure, but not overwhelmingly.  Unfortunately his GA On/60 (Goals Against) was second worst on the team at 3.20. To make it a little clearer, Scott Hannan measured at 2.94.

Certainly a bottom three On-Ice SV% hurt that, but the point remains that Jokinen was not the all-star two-way center some fans seemed to think he was. He was better than in years past thanks to a commitment to simplifying his game, but he also benfited from Curtis Glencross’ career high SH% and an on-ice SH% of 10.39. Without those percentages, Jokinen is much deeper in the red by the end of the season.

To be fair to Jokinen, he remains a pretty decent producer with the man advantage. His PPP/60 rate was top two on the team for the second year in a row. The PP has been a strength for Jokinen throughout his career, so the Flames (or whoever signs him) can probably continue to bet on good numbers in that area from him.

A Potential Contract

So what can we imagine Jokinen would like in a new contract? It’ll almost certainly be a raise, given the $3M he earned the last two years was an absolute bargain, but it’s hard to imagine coming close to the $5.25M he was paid before that. Assuming a team takes a chance and splits the difference, that would give Jokinen a theoretical cap hit of $4.125M. Of course, the real issue with his deal will be length. At 34 years old, Jokinen is entering the twighlight phase of most careers and could theoretically step off a cliff in terms of performance at any time. Anything longer than one or two seasons carries with it significant risk. 

 So while all that might be fine for a team making a run with room for a big center, it’s a poor bet for the Flames need to get younger, cheaper and more flexible rather than older and more expensive (while running place).

The Good in Goodbye

Given Jokinen’s age, rumors of desire for a long-term deal, and the expectations of diminishing returns, it’s time for the Flames to get their Beyonce on and "find the good in goodbye".


  • supra steve

    If they go full rebuild, Olli could (if available at a reasonable price) provide a recognizable name (former star) in the lineup for fans to cheer or jeer. Under these circumstances, if he falters we may get to draft 2nd or 3rd instead of 6th or 7th. That is a win. If Flames don’t go full rebuild (and by that I mean shipping Iggy and Kipper) then god help Mr. Feaster, please!

  • MC Hockey

    Agreed, zero point to bringing him back, especially after his comment about the Flames having a lot of money this summer. He was obviously playing for a contract and once he gets it, I don’t see any incentive left for him at 34 years old. No chance of a Cup on the Flames.

    Also, no way he repeats his performance next season and, as noted, he was really just OK this season anyways.

    Besides, I’d rather see opportunities be given and decisions be made on the futures of Jones (if he’s back), Backlund and Cervenka.

    My fear is that idiot King will lock him up to match Tanguay’s contract. And then they’ll extend Iginla for 3 years.

  • supra steve

    I think everyone is pretty much in agreement here, we don’t sign him UNLESS it’s 1yr(2 at the longest deal) with an avg salary at 4M or less? And even then it’s not a great bet. But with what our center corps looks like next year without him if we don’t trade for help is not pretty either.

    I’d rather not keep him and see how the year plays out personally.

  • MC Hockey

    I concur with most comments above. Sign him if you must (say on July 1 after you miss out on Parise or other surprising Centre-ice ideas perhaps), but not more than $4M/year and 1-year contract would be preferable.

  • beloch

    There are two things I wouldn’t mind seeing here.

    1) A fair raise but a short term (2 years max)

    2) A bargain retirement deal. i.e. A longer term contract, but one with a small cap hit to reflect his likely impending decline. This makes him a bargain early on and a minor burden later on when he’ll likely still be good on the third or fourth line.

    Above all, no NTC.

  • MC Hockey

    one year 2.5 mill. if he refuses the dough, ollie can legally change his name from jokinen to ollie jokerit. ollies only option at this point is playing in the motherland.

  • T&A4Flames

    Just say no! If we dont start rebuilding this upcoming year,we certainly will be the following year. Yes Joker would probably be a way better option for #2-3rd line centre than Cerevenka or Backlund. But it would be the wrong decision. We need to find out next year when expectations are low to see if these kids can step up & play top 6 in this league. We will never ever know as long as we keep plugging the Jokers of the world to keep us mediocre & second guessing our younger players abilities. At some point we need to go with a leap of faith. This is no different than reviewing our goaltending situation. Since Kipper has been here, we have had 2 backups that have had more playoff success than Kipper, Giguerre & Roloson. Both have had long playoff runs twice. If we dont give Irving a chance, we’ll just never know & you can throw all the limited stats we have but chances are a team like Tampa or the Islanders pick him cheap & he blossoms at the NHL level just because a team gave him the chance. Worst case, we are going to lose some games Kipper probably would have won for us. Maybe we would be picking 8th this year instead of 14th. Would that put that big of a different perception of this team to the fan base? I dont think so. Just say no! We need a colon cleanse here, now is as good as anytime to start.

  • T&A4Flames

    If we could sign him for 1yr at no more than $4mil. and a modified NTC I would do it if there were no other options. By modified I mean, he has to give us a minimum 10 teams he would go to so that we can ship him to a contender by the deadline for another asset. Perhaps we could make it an annual thing where we sign and trade him to 1yr contracts and move at the deadline for picks. Who knows, maybe he wins a cup along the way.

  • MC Hockey

    That’s funny T&A…so you mean do what Dutter did wiht Olli over and over….like Groundhog Day movie (with that annoying song playing on the clock radio). Hilarious!

    • T&A4Flames

      Yea, but it’s a classic song…. Besides, it seems like a win, win, win. I din’t think we are winning the cup anytime soon, Ollie wants to be here, he spends the majority of the year here and then gets moved every deadline to a contender for assets. Something like a 2nd this coming year, then a 3rd the next and so on. Good idea?

  • Parallex

    Pretty clear what to do here… take how he did (pretty good), extrapolate from that how you think he’ll do in the future (not as good), how he was compensated before (a mild bargain)… throw that all into the mix and what you get is basically same dollars same term (and I’d only give him a limited NMC this time).

    I think he’d want more but that is the limit to what I would spend on him. He’s spoken that he likes the city and wants to stay… he’s more then welcome to, but only on the teams terms.

  • Also: the animated victory dance on the jumbotron next year is allowed to use Jokinen’s face. I think that should be in his contract. The Flames are sitting on a merchandising goldmine here and could probably recoup most of the guy’s contract in T-shirt and bobblehead sales.

  • If Jokinen wanted a short term contract at a reasonable cap hit then that would be one thing. He wants to stay in Calgary and was one of our best forwards the last two season.

    But the Flames are in no position to give him a long term and/or high cap contract.

    I really hope that Sutter doesn’t offer him a Tanguay like deal.

  • RexLibris

    Jokinen wants a long-term commitment from the team and loves the city.

    The Flames want to keep some cap flexibility and make room for younger players at the forward positions.

    Seems like a deadlock, but wait! I see a possbile solution…

    Sign Jokinen to a two-year deal then…make him a member of upper management. Give him a player personnel task like “Head of Player Hair Aesthetics” or “Director of Player Choreography”. Maybe he could even head up the “Flames Fotoshopping Foundation”? (please pardon the creative license taken for alliteration)

    Or you could trade the rights to his waffle gif to Montreal for their 3rd overall pick.

    Just a thought.

  • RexLibris

    @ Sincity1976

    I think you meant Feaster. The last time I looked I think the Flames are pretty much “Sutter” free now.

    In regards to Jokinen:
    Albeit he played with an injury which showed some character and grit, however, I felt like the majority of this team didn’t deliver when the games meant the most. Although Glencross and him have some chemistry, I think that his time in Calgary has run is course and I would rather see the Flames spend or save their free agent dollars elsewhere.