Winnipeg Jets Roster Analysis: Reviewing Olli Jokinen’s Assists in 2011-12
The Winnipeg Jets recently signed Olli Jokinen to a two-year deal worth $9.0 million. We know Jokinen can score, he has 292 career NHL regular season goals. While the former third overall NHL Draft selection by the Los Angeles Kings has 391 career assists, he has never been known as a pass-first player. In fact, Jokinen’s 38 assists last season with the Flames was his third highest single-season assist total of his career.
It is not that Jokinen cannot pass, or is even a bad passer when he attempts to move the puck, it is that his first move is generally to put the puck on net. We are talking about a player that has put 351 shots on net during two different seasons (Evgeni Malkin led the entire NHL with 339 shots on goal last season).
Jokinen actually has had three seasons in which he has more goals than assists. That is fairly uncommon for point producing players–Stamkos, Gaborik, Moulson and Hartnell did that in the top 30 point producers this season.
With a player that has not been known as a pass-first player, it would be interesting to examine how he came about his assists last season and see what his strengths were and where he appears to feel most comfortable. So, let’s do just that.
When Does Jokinen Register Assists
Jokinen registered 38 assists in 31 games last season. Let’s delve deeper into how he registered those assists.
The former Flame logged significant power play time last season, playing 3:06 minutes per game, which was third of all Flames forwards behind only Jarome Iginla and Alex Tanguay.
At even strength, Jokinen logged 15:26 minutes per game, which was second on the team behind only Iginla.
Jokinen played minimally on the penalty kill with only 0:24 minutes per game. As an aside, the Jets do need to improve their penalty kill and Jokinen and Alexei Ponikarovsky will do little to help in that regard.
In what game situations did Jokinen register his assists:
As you can tell, Jokinen excelled on the power play last season. In fact, he led the Flames with the most first assists per 60 minutes played on the man advantage.
On the power play, Jokinen likes to set up on the right half-boards and create offense from there–him and Iginla paired up on a few power play goals that saw Jokinen make the cross-ice pass to Iginla for the one-timer. With Jokinen generally setting up on right half boards, the Jets may look to put Dustin Byfuglien on the weak side to play a one-timer roll just as Iginla does in Calgary. Both Byfuglien and Iginla have good one-timers (Iginla’s is arguably the best in the game) and Jokinen likes to work off the weak side (we will touch on that soon).
First or Second Assists
Next we examine whether Jokinen’s assists were first or second assists.
Jokinen is a player that has actually registered more first assists than second assists over the past two seasons. His plays are leading directly to goals which is a positive. If you had your druthers, you’d rather the player you are acquiring is directly responsible for set ups than not.
Mind you, playing with Jarome Iginla certainly does not hurt. Of Jokinen’s first assists, 10 of them were to Jarome Iginla on the scoring end. The Jets do not have a right-handed sniper, Blake Wheeler is more of a pass-first player and Anti Miettinen does not have a great shot, so it will be interesting to see which player Jokinen meshes with best at even strength.
Where Jokinen Registers His Assists From
We alluded above to Jokinen’s penchant for creating from the right half-boards on the power play. Well, Jokinen actually likes to create from the right side of the ice, not just the right half boards. Many left-handed shooters also have that preference because they are on their off-wing and have more flexibility and options in terms of passing lanes.
The statistics indicate that Jokinen feels most comfortable from behind the net to the right hash-marks. So, if you can picture the offensive zone in four quadrants (as if viewing it from the offensive blue line), Jokinen likes the top right quadrant.
Olli Jokinen is not a playmaker like Blake Wheeler. That said, he can create offense with his passing, even if it is not necessarily his forte. The question, however, is whether Jokinen, who is in his mid-3os, can create offense without a career 500 goal scorer playing shotgun on his wing?
The 2012-13 season will help fans answer that question. For now, it is enjoyable having a new, established forward to look forward to when the Jets enter season two of their franchise rebirth.