Lost in a lot of the discussion on the blueline is Jyrki Jokipakka, one of the pieces acquired in the Kris Russell deal with Dallas at the 2016 trade deadline. He’s 25 – in the right age group – and that should put him in the discussion of players who should breathe optimism into the fanbase.
The biggest question in this is whether or not Jokipakka can produce results of a second pairing guy, or if he’s destined for depth territory.
The 2015-16 Season
At 25 already, Jokipakka has 109 games under his belt at the NHL level. Last season, he expanded on the limited results he had put up in his first season and produced some modest ones. It’s worth noting that all of his points were generated at 5v5:
As a member of the Dallas Stars, Jokipakka was subjugated to atypical third pairing usage. He didn’t see explicitly difficult usage or competition, nor did he subsequently experience higher quality teammates either. He simply was a stopgap on the third pairing, which is completely fine by NHL standards.
Below are Jokipakka’s splits by team at 5v5 from 2015-16 (all data referenced is from Corsica):
The first thing you’ll see on is how close Jokipakka was to breaking even at 5v5 with Dallas in terms of most shot metrics. For a team that was a very high event group, there are some positives to be had here. That said, after joining Calgary his results dropped off despite seeing a slight increase in TOI at 5v5.
An overlooked aspect of his game was his +11 penalty differential. Though it was nearly the inverse with the Flames, if there can be a balance found there then it’s another opportunity for the Flames to find time on the power play. It’s no secret the power play needs to improve this season and one area it can is by drawing calls.
The biggest identifiable concerns really revolve around whether or not Jokipakka can definitively provide a positive impact on the ice in terms of shot generation for the team or shot suppression.
There should be some optimism that the ill-effects of Hartley’s regime are gone, but Jokipakka’s relative CF60 of -13.01 and relative CA60 of -7.64 tell two different tales during his brief sample with the Flames. As a member of the Stars his relative CF60 was -5.49 and his relative CA60 was 1.05. So what is Jokipakka, as a defenseman, exactly?
Shot generation and suppression seem to have limited interplay and Jokipakka seemingly falls in the middle of this: limited and meagre movements in aggregate over a larger sample. One of the biggest goals this season should be finding out what he can do in as close to a full 82 game season.
Note: Relative CF/CA metrics measure the shot metrics relative to a player’s peers to get a gauge of how their strong their impact is overall. A positive CF60 for example is a good sign, negative not so much. For CA60, a negative is a good sign (fewer shots), while a positive means more shots against relative to what his peers transpire while on ice.
What To Expect This Season
Jokipakka has the opportunity, like much of this Flames roster, to get a fresh start under a new regime with Glen Gulutzan. This means there is a chance to see what happens to this team under a new set of systems and play along with hoping that everyone sees improvements over last year’s results.
You have to hope that the age curve does move in the positive direction for him rather than him taking a step back. Getting some soft minutes on the third pairing with the opportunity to maybe move up to the second pairing under controlled circumstances and some penalty kill time could do wonders for his game.
Preferably, if Jokipakka plays with Brett Kulak – should Kulak get into the lineup regularly over Nick Grossmann or Deryk Engelland – there may be a chance to get some potential results there. That said, it’s possible that Gulutzan tries an assortment of bizarre tandems until he finds a good match.
Regardless of who he plays with Kevin, as he’s often referred to, should have some eyes on him this season for what could be the right reasons.